Tag Archive | "Chris Davis"


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Orioles thoughts entering 2019 spring training

Posted on 11 February 2019 by Luke Jones

With Orioles pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Sarasota for the start of spring training on Tuesday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. What would mark an acceptable — relatively and realistically speaking — major league season? I think Mike Elias would gladly take Cedric Mullins and a couple others looking like legitimate pieces for the future and a few veterans performing well enough to be traded. Avoiding 100 losses wouldn’t hurt.

2. Describing an $800,000 contract as even a “low-risk” signing sounds silly, but I liked the addition of Nate Karns to see if his arm injuries are finally behind him. His 9.3 career strikeouts per nine innings and above-average curveball fit nicely with what Elias and Sig Mejdal valued in Houston.

3. I’ll be curious to see which Baltimore pitchers start throwing their breaking pitches more frequently. The talent level is different, but veterans like Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, and Gerrit Cole featured their breaking stuff more prominently upon joining the Astros. Spin rate is huge in Houston.

4. We’ve now heard Chris Davis talk about making adjustments to bounce back in three consecutive winters. Perhaps the new brain trust will find some magic fix to salvage some value from the remaining four years of his contract, but it’s all eyewash until April.

5. It could be now or never for Chance Sisco to show whether he’s a starting-caliber catcher or just a fringe backup type. The starting job is sitting there for the former second-round pick who will turn 24 later this month. Austin Wynns, 28, substantially outplaying him last year wasn’t encouraging.

6. After hitting well in limited duty last September, DJ Stewart will have his best chance this spring to prove he’s deserving of a starting corner outfield job, especially as Austin Hays needs to reestablish himself after an injury-plagued 2018 season.

7. If I had to predict the starting shortstop and third baseman, I’d pick Rule 5 pick Richie Martin and Renato Nunez. The latter played well late last year, but that’s easily the most depressing left side of the infield on paper since Cesar Izturis and a washed-up Miguel Tejada.

8. Martin and fellow Rule 5 pick Drew Jackson may not be up to the task at shortstop, but I’d prefer keeping Jonathan Villar at second base where he’s at his best defensively. Villar was worth seven defensive runs saved at second and minus-three in 18 starts at shortstop last season.

9. Coming off a 5.55 ERA last season, Mike Wright is now 29 and unlikely to stick on the roster simply because he’s out of options again, especially with the new regime. The same likely goes for the 28-year-old Donnie Hart, who posted a 5.59 ERA while struggling with control.

10. Dean Kremer is the non-roster invitee I’m most looking forward to monitoring. The 23-year-old led the minors in strikeouts last year and possesses a good curve that will appeal to the new front office. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Orioles at some point this season.

11. This can be said about a number of unsigned veterans, but it’s difficult to believe Adam Jones hasn’t found a job as camps open this week. He may not be the player he was a few years ago, but he can still fill a meaningful role for a contender.

12. As much as I loved the Elias hire and have liked what I’ve seen from Brandon Hyde so far, where are the marketing efforts and ticket promotions for a team that has very little to sell from a competitive standpoint? There needs to be much greater urgency in this area.

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Orioles thoughts on end of Duquette-Showalter era

Posted on 04 October 2018 by Luke Jones

With Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter officially being dismissed on Wednesday, I’ve offered a dozen Orioles thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Their relationship wasn’t always harmonious, but Duquette and Showalter — with a hat tip to Andy MacPhail — guided the Orioles to their most successful five-season run in the last 35 years. They made mistakes and paid the price for a 115-loss season, but that shouldn’t wipe away good feelings.

2. Not using Zach Britton in the 2016 AL wild card game was the beginning of the end, but that shouldn’t define Showalter’s legacy. His 2010 arrival eventually brought legitimacy and a higher standard not seen here in a long time. As he likes to say, I have a long memory.

3. Acknowledging a working environment in which others had influence on decisions, it’s difficult to accurately assess Duquette’s tenure. To say he only reaped the benefits of MacPhail’s work is unfair, but he had his share of bad trades and signings. The Chris Davis contract wasn’t his doing.

4. Wednesday’s press release deliberately stating the plan to hire a head of baseball operations outside the organization who “will have the final determination on all baseball matters” sounds great, but is that a sincere vow rooted in self-awareness or merely lip service? Time will tell.

5. The casual mention of Brady Anderson remaining under contract is the elephant in the room needing to be addressed with any legitimate candidate considering the job. Will Anderson remain? If so, will he answer to the new hire? A clear and authentic chain of command is an absolute must.

6. Who will be involved in the hiring process and ultimately make the final decision? What will be the prioritized hiring criteria? Will any experienced outsiders serve as consultants to help make informed decisions? A press conference would go a long way in providing these answers to a deserving fan base.

7. I’d prefer an up-and-coming lieutenant embracing analytics and innovation to an established “name” who leans solely on more traditional practices. You hope what Duquette preached at the trade deadline about improving scouting, analytics, and the presence in the international market still holds true.

8. Former Boston general manager Ben Cherington has the desire “to build an organization from ground up,” a descriptor certainly fitting of the Orioles. That doesn’t mean he’ll be interested here, but I believe a clean slate is appealing to talented baseball minds — if truly given autonomy.

9. I’m not all that intrigued by how the managerial job will be filled beyond that hire needing to be made by the new head of baseball operations. Give me a younger manager in step with front office philosophies who will relate well to young players. It definitely won’t be easy.

10. I’m lukewarm to the idea of anyone with strong Orioles ties being hired for either position. Speaking as someone who grew up on this team, “The Oriole Way” hasn’t been much more than a marketing slogan for over three decades. There are other ways to involve former Orioles.

11. Talent is paramount, but I’d love to see the organization experiment in the midst of what will be much losing. Baltimore was among the early clubs to embrace infield shifting and prioritize the bullpen, two major factors today. Try new ideas instead of simply losing with “safe” practices. Openers, anyone?

12. John and Lou Angelos will begin to carve out their legacy from this point on. They need to get this right to prove they’ve learned from the organization’s past mistakes and to restore — and preserve — the well-being of the franchise in Baltimore. The pressure is on.

Comments Off on Twelve Orioles thoughts on end of Duquette-Showalter era


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Buck Showalter: One bad night in Toronto cemented your Orioles legacy

Posted on 03 October 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear Buck:

We would’ve had fun together – you and me, if we knew each other. I like smart guys and folks that other “wise” people refer to as a genius. I like storytellers. And I love baseball. Even our mutually departed pal Johnny Oates, the first Baltimore Orioles manager I stalked and questioned and infuriated and learned from back in the early 1990s, managed to love me in the end.

So I’m sure you would’ve found my candor and baseball intellect to be simply delightful in those post-game pressers and pre-game dugout scrums but alas I only attended two of your press conferences.

I was there the day you were hired and talked about “piledivers” – the day when I waved my arm like Arnold Horshack and was never afforded a question by your Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

And I was in the back of the room in Kansas City at Kaufman Stadium when Major League Baseball credentialed me as a legitimate media member during the 2014 American League Championship Series. A beaten man, you conceded the season after a four-game sweep to the Royals and I didn’t have the heart to ask you a tough question at that point. I took mercy on you. That week was tough enough without a guy like me hijacking you with some real questions. And there really wasn’t much to say because the silence of the bats did all of the talking for the Orioles.

Buck, you’ve been a standup guy on most public fronts during your eight years here. Even when those post-game interviews with Gary Thorne on the Mister Angelos And Sons Network bring back the rare sincerity of the Mean Gene-Hulkamania days or the Vince McMahon-Bruno Sammartino teasers of professional wrestling lore of my youth. You even got Rick Dempsey on your side after finishing “second” in the managerial pursuit about five times! On the tough nights on the network of the PGA, it was co-workers in love chatting about another road loss. On the good nights – and there were plenty of those, too – it was a yuck-a-thon of pies, piledivers and aww-shucks comments about “the best players in the world out there.”

And then there was the night Mike Flanagan killed himself – but we’re not allowed to talk about that around here. It’s like it never happened. Especially if you’re at WBAL.

But now that this biblical shit show is over – and you somehow ended this legendary mess as a sub-.500 manager in your totality here (15 games under at 669-684) – it’s time to take stock of your accomplishments and failures within a franchise that never knew success before you and certainly doesn’t look like there’s much coming over the steep hill as you see this dumpster fire blazing a bright orange hue in your rear view mirror.

We all know that you’ve been better than that here – even if your record is what it says it is.

First, I want to apologize for telling your wife that winning would be impossible here the day you were hired at the press conference. I’ve witnessed the Peter G. Angelos era here over 25 mostly dreadful years and I believed that no one could penetrate such an awful place with a Warehouse full of incompetence and incompetents and win against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.

I also know that most of the other MLB owners would’ve never hired you – and you needed a gig and wanted one last try at winning a World Series. At the time, most of your friends and baseball insiders were telling you not to take the job as the manager of the

Comments Off on Dear Buck Showalter: One bad night in Toronto cemented your Orioles legacy

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 10.14.09 AM

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Orioles thoughts entering All-Star break

Posted on 16 July 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles hitting the All-Star break an unthinkable 39 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Even with a victory in the final game before the All-Star break that featured contributions from Manny Machado and Adam Jones, the Orioles remain on pace to become the fifth major league team since 1901 to lose 115 games in a season. Infamy continues to chase them.

2. Baltimore hadn’t won on consecutive days at home since its season-best four-game winning streak from May 9-12, and it had also been three weeks since the club won consecutive games. Overshadowed by the frustration and anger of the season is how truly astonishing it’s all been.

3. Chris Tillman being bypassed in favor of a bullpen game Sunday should speak volumes about where he stands with his rehab assignment coming to an end. Not even a Jimmy Yacabonis illness could bring him back to the majors.

4. The question isn’t about whom to fire as much as determining who deserves to stick around for the pending rebuild. How do Buck Showalter and his coaching staff come back from such a historically poor season? What’s the justification for maintaining the status quo? It’s a tough sell.

5. Beyond trades involving pending free agents, a top second-half priority needs to be getting Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini on track. Both are too young and talented to have played like this. The Orioles need these two to be pillars around which to build or at least potential trade chips.

6. After being optioned to the minors for the second time in a month, Chance Sisco needs to be left alone for a while. I have doubts about what we’ve seen from him so far, but making him a regular on the Norfolk shuttle isn’t going to help matters.

7. I certainly wouldn’t give away Mychal Givens and his current 4.28 ERA, but the organization’s reluctance to trade him is too shortsighted. No one should be off the table when you’re facing a multiyear rebuild, especially factoring in the volatility of relievers.

8. In his first 23 games since returning from his benching, Chris Davis has batted .176 with five home runs, a .245 on-base percentage, and a .388 slugging percentage. That actually represents improvement, too. He sits at minus-2.5 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference.

9. The Orioles entered the break last in the majors at minus-87 defensive runs saved, and the cause isn’t players being out of position as Showalter suggested this past week. Players with more speed and better defensive skills are needed rather than a surplus of designated hitters with gloves.

10. An addition to begin changing that narrative would be Cedric Mullins, who entered Monday sporting an .820 on-base plus slugging percentage for Triple-A Norfolk. It’s time to start seeing what the 23-year-old center fielder can do in the majors.

11. Brooks Robinson being hired as a special assistant is a great move, but I can’t stop thinking about how long overdue it is. This is something that should have happened from the moment “Mr. Oriole” left the broadcast booth 25 years ago. Better late than never though.

12. Now, is there any chance John and Lou Angelos can do something about THIS?

Comments Off on Twelve Orioles thoughts entering All-Star break


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Letting The Warehouse know via #DearOrioles letters that those empty seats are still out here

Posted on 25 June 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

I’VE THOUGHT LONG AND HARD about how I can best shine a light on the significance of the Baltimore Orioles to our city and community in this summer of baseball darkness.

In my hopes of one day becoming a “man of letters” – and in my old-fashioned newspaper columnist way and sans a legitimate press credential that was taken from me 12 years ago after 21 years of covering the baseball team – I’ve decided that the best thing I can do short of delivering a personal message to any of them face to face is write personal notes to all of them. So between now and whenever this mess is dismantled or disintegrates, they’ll all be getting very public and personal letters from me on the way out the door. And for those who are remaining – and most of those are named “Angelos” – I’ll continue to challenge them to answer to the fans, the stakeholders and the community in this tender time in Orioles history.

I’ll ask them all: “What does your future hold? What will your legacy be?”

It’s what John Steadman would do.

You can read them at the hashtag #DearOrioles. I’m hoping folks in the community will write their own #DearOrioles questions, concerns and memos.

This is the 25th summer Peter G. Angelos has owned the Orioles. It is my 27th year of doing sports radio and media in Baltimore. On August 3rd, WNST will celebrate its 20th year serving local sports fans the truth about the teams and the people who create, host and benefit from the games our community has supported with massive tax breaks, stadium erections and credit card insertions.

I was here doing this Baltimore sports media thing long before anyone outside of Bethlehem Steel ever knew the name of Peter G. Angelos – back in the spring and summer of 1993 when he created chaos and somehow usurped control of the franchise away from Bill DeWitt and Larry Lucchino. I wrote about that last summer in The Peter Principles. You can also find the audio read in the Buy A Toyota Audio Vault.

By my count, there have been five summers of relevance under his quarter of a century of involvement. In baseball parlance, that’s batting .200 ­–­ or 50 points higher than the guy they owe $130 million ill-fated dollars to over the next 20 years. By my count, he’s pocketed in excess of $1 billion in profit over the past 15 years, primarily due to a “get out of debt free” deal with Major League Baseball to bring a team to Washington, D.C. and allowing Angelos a spigot to print cable television money via MASN.

Peter G. Angelos and his heirs have been big winners in the Baltimore baseball game. Big with a capital “B” as in billions.

Meanwhile, fans of the Baltimore Orioles and vested community members have consistently been the losers in the baseball game. And the promises that William Donald Schaefer made with Edward Bennett Williams before his death about Camden Yards and a downtown stadium and the emotional and/or economic benefits it would provide for our city and community have all but evaporated.

I’m the guy who did Free The Birds back in September 2006 in an attempt to hold Angelos accountable and publicly discuss the issues surrounding a deserted downtown on game nights. It appears as though I’ve now lived long enough to arrive at holding the next “person of influence” with the Orioles accountable as well.

I pray that the next “caretaker” actually takes care of it because it’s in desperate need of some TLC. There are whispers that the franchise is in jeopardy of leaving Baltimore.

Can you imagine Peter G. Angelos being around to negotiate a long-term lease for Camden Yards and the threats that would come?

I’ve built my life and company and business and personal brand around local sports and the baseball franchise – for better or worse. My childhood love of the Baltimore Orioles is deep and well told. I’ve always loved the team. I live here. I moved downtown in 2003 to attend Orioles games. I wrote about it over 19 chapters of history in 2006 when I did the #FreeTheBirds walkout to shine a light on the horrific ownership and the lack of accountability. I’m no #Nestordamus, but I can say that I very clearly predicted the demise of the brand given the

Comments (1)


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Orioles designate Alvarez for assignment, promote infielder Wilkerson

Posted on 19 June 2018 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have shaken up their 25-man roster prior to the start of a three-game set in Washington.

In addition to officially recalling catcher Caleb Joseph from Triple-A Norfolk to replace the demoted Chance Sisco, Baltimore has designated struggling veteran Pedro Alvarez for assignment and selected the contract of infielder Steve Wilkerson from the Tides.

With Mark Trumbo beginning the season on the disabled list, Alvarez had a good opening month, batting .237 with six home runs, 13 runs batted in, and a .933 on-base plus slugging percentage. However, the left-handed slugger had struggled mightily since May 1 with a .115 average and .424 OPS in his last 57 plate appearances.

In 127 plate appearances this season, Alvarez was batting .180 with eight homers, 18 RBIs, and a .698 OPS.

Wilkerson, 26, was batting .290 with three home runs, nine RBIs, and an .862 OPS in 70 plate appearances for Norfolk since returning from a 50-game ban for amphetamine use. The 2014 eighth-round pick is a switch hitter and was very much on the organization’s radar as a potential utility infielder prior to the announcement of his suspension this past offseason.

He batted a combined .305 with eight homers, 45 RBIs, and a .798 OPS between Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie last season and also hit .317 in the Arizona Fall League. Wilkerson has played all four infield positions and both corner outfield spots in the minor leagues, but his most extensive action has come at second base.

Batting .273 with two home runs, 14 RBIs, and a .702 OPS for Norfolk since being demoted by the Orioles last month, Joseph was in the starting lineup against the Nationals on Tuesday. According to STATS, he and younger brother Corban Joseph are now the 28th set of brothers to be teammates in the majors since 1980 and just the second set in Orioles history, joining Cal and Billy Ripken.

First baseman Chris Davis was out of the starting lineup for the sixth consecutive game as he continues to work on making adjustments in a woeful offensive season in which he’s batted just .150 with a .454 OPS. He has started in just two of Baltimore’s last 10 games and hasn’t recorded an extra-base hit in over a month.

Comments Off on Orioles designate Alvarez for assignment, promote infielder Wilkerson


Tags: , , , ,

Orioles continue to sit Davis with “no closed end to it”

Posted on 15 June 2018 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — If it weren’t already becoming apparent after Chris Davis sat out four of the previous six games, Orioles manager Buck Showalter delivered the news prior to Friday’s game with Miami.

The veteran first baseman has been benched.

Showalter didn’t use the “b” word, of course, as he explained Davis is being given an extended stretch of time to work on adjustments to try to turn around a historically-disastrous season in which he’s batting .150 with a .454 on-base plus slugging percentage. Both marks rank last in the majors among qualified hitters by a wide margin as the 32-year-old has hit only four home runs and has been worth an appalling minus-2.2 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference. Davis hasn’t hit a homer since May 9, posting a .114 average with a .305 OPS, two extra-base hits, five walks, and 43 strikeouts over his last 95 plate appearances.

“Chris is continuing with some things that he’s working on,” Showalter said. “When they come to me and say they think he’s ready to get back in the lineup, we’ll put him back in there. But it’s nothing imminent.”

Asked exactly whom “they” was comprised of, Showalter would not specify. The manager does not expect Davis’ absence to be a long-term situation, but he added there is “no closed end to it.”

There have been no signs of improvement this season as Davis’ numbers have gotten worse each month since April when he batted an anemic .167 with a .513 OPS. It’s gotten so bad that the last-place Orioles promoted infielder and longtime minor leaguer Corban Joseph, the younger brother of Caleb Joseph, to start at first base against the Marlins on Friday.

Davis is only in the third season of a seven-year, $161 million contract and has now produced a slash line of .179/.266/.314 over his last 503 plate appearances dating back to the 2017 All-Star break, making it inappropriate to simply refer to this unprecedented decline as a slump. Davis had previously received a game or two off to use as a reset once or twice, but this current stretch represents the most meaningful public action taken to address what constitutes an organizational crisis.

“I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later. I’d love to get back the Chris Davis that we all know he’s capable of [being],” Showalter said. “It hasn’t been there this year. With kind of a new approach and some new things you’re trying, this is not something that you’re going to do one day in a workout and then it’s all going to pop in one night. If that was the case, it would have happened a long time ago.

“This is something you’ve got to give a little time to and know that when you get into a game and you don’t hit a line drive over the center fielder’s head the first swing you take, you don’t throw everything out. If you’re looking for an instant return on stuff, this game doesn’t allow that.”

What those adjustments or alterations might look like remain to be seen as he hasn’t yet made any dramatic changes to his swing, stance, or positioning in the batter’s box for an extended period of time.

“We need a good Chris Davis. We do,” Showalter said. “He knows that, and that’s what’s frustrating for him. It’s like the chicken and the egg, what comes first confidence-wise?

“I’d love to see Chris get a good week under his belt and watch what happens.”

Comments Off on Orioles continue to sit Davis with “no closed end to it”


Tags: , , , , ,

Schoop’s struggles creating difficult pivot point for Orioles’ rebuild

Posted on 07 June 2018 by Luke Jones

A year ago, Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop was on his way to his first All-Star Game and having the best season of his young career.

His improvement coupled with the first-half struggles of Manny Machado even prompted debate over which infielder would be the better long-term investment relative to their projected prices on the open market. Of course, that was before the Orioles’ September collapse that carried right into 2018 with Baltimore owning the worst record in the majors and needing to face the reality of rebuilding.

Trading Machado and other pending free agents Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach isn’t debatable; it simply must be done. Determining who will make the final call on the returns for these players is another story, of course, with the organization lacking any public semblance of stability at the top.

As for on-field failures, no one has received more blame than Chris Davis, the highest-paid player in the history of the club who’s become arguably the worst everyday player in all of baseball, a sentiment driven by data as much as emotion at this point. But harping about his failures is feeling more and more like wasted breath as the $161 million has been spent, whether he’s allowed to continue languishing at first base for the next four seasons or not. Davis isn’t the only player who’s performed poorly in 2018, but his historic decline has essentially swallowed up any extensive conversation about the struggles of others.

At the top of that secondary list is what has happened to Schoop, who was supposed to represent a pivot point in determining just how extensive this rebuild will be. Dealing Machado and others scheduled to become free agents at the end of 2018 is obvious, but Schoop is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of next year. The fear with the 26-year-old second baseman was repeating the same mistake made with Machado by neither signing him to a long-term extension nor maximizing the return value in a trade. That dilemma has been complicated by Schoop having his worst season since he was a rookie in 2014.

What’s gone wrong?

The discussion begins with the right oblique strain he suffered in Boston in mid-April. He missed more than three weeks of action and it’s the kind of injury that can linger if not treated carefully, but he’s been back for a month and is batting just .232 with five home runs, 15 runs batted in, and a .632 on-base plus slugging percentage on the season. Only Schoop can say whether he’s fully healthy or not, and he’s given no indication that the oblique is still bothering him.

Before going on the disabled list April 14, Schoop was batting .230 with a .610 OPS in 65 plate appearances. It was clearly a rough start in a limited sample, but that came after he had batted .321 with six homers and a 1.081 OPS in 53 Grapefruit League at-bats. Nothing meaningful should be gleaned from spring training numbers, of course, but there certainly wasn’t a red flag to try to take away, either. It’s worth noting Schoop batted just .230 with two long balls and a .590 OPS last September, easily the worst month of 2017 for the man who was worth 5.2 wins above replacement and was voted the club’s most valuable player in his fourth full season in the majors.

His .276 batting average on balls in play in 2018 suggests some bad luck compared to his .319 BABIP over the previous three seasons, but Schoop isn’t hitting the ball as hard as he did in previous seasons. His average exit velocity of 85.2 miles per hour is well below his 87.8 average a year ago and 87.7 career mark from the time Statcast data became available in 2015. According to FanGraphs, Schoop is making hard contact just 22.5 percent of the time compared to 36.1 percent last year and 30.3 percent for his career. He’s also hitting fewer line drives — 14.8 percent compared to 18.5 percent for his career — and his homer-to-fly ball ratio is just 9.8 percent, markedly worse than his 15.4 percent for his career.

Even if the oblique injury has impacted his batted-ball profile, that doesn’t explain the regression of Schoop’s plate discipline. It’s no secret that he came to the majors as a free-swinging hitter and walked just 13 times in his 481 plate appearances (2.7 percent) as a rookie in 2014, but Schoop had gradually improved his walk rate every year until earning a free pass in 5.2 percent of his plate appearances last season. That hardly made him a “patient” hitter compared to the average major league walk rate of 8.5 percent, but the young hitter was more consistently having good at-bats and taking advantage of better pitches to hit than he had in previous years.

Schoop’s walk rate has plummeted to a career-worst 2.3 percent in 2018, swinging more frequently in general and swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone than he did last season, according to FanGraphs. Walking just four times in 176 plate appearances would give him the second-worst walk rate in the majors if he currently qualified in the rankings.

Known as one of the better off-speed and breaking-ball hitters on the team entering 2018, Schoop is batting just .143 with no homers against changeups and curveballs after hitting a combined .312 with 12 of his 32 homers against those two offerings last season. As you’d expect based on his overall numbers, he’s struggled against the other pitch types as well.

None of this is to suggest putting Schoop in the same category as Davis and his current struggles are nothing a three-week tear couldn’t remedy, but following a career year with his worst non-rookie campaign is neither helping his trade value nor creating more urgency to lock him up to a long-term deal — even if there were any evidence suggesting those efforts were being made. The optimist would say he might be more inclined to sign a team-friendly deal during a down season, but it’s still difficult imagining Schoop giving a meaningful discount so close to free agency, especially given the Orioles’ current turmoil.

Unlike when Machado was struggling a year ago, Schoop’s overall body of work and career 10.0 WAR isn’t as impressive to justify doing whatever it takes financially to lock him up. In the same way that the Orioles followed Nelson Cruz’s departure by overpaying Davis with a seven-year contract, you don’t want to reach too far to keep Schoop simply because you failed to retain Machado.

To be clear, this dilemma would still be difficult if Schoop were having a season more closely resembling what he did in 2017, but then the options of trading him for a strong return to further jump-start a rebuild or extending him to signal some long-term stability around which to build would be much more appealing. Two months ago, you could have easily made an argument that more than a year’s worth of Schoop would have fetched more in a trade than a two-month rental of Machado, but the play of these close friends has gone in opposite directions in 2018.

And it’s just another source of frustration for an organization staring at a bleak future.

Comments Off on Schoop’s struggles creating difficult pivot point for Orioles’ rebuild


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ten painful Orioles numbers entering month of June

Posted on 01 June 2018 by Luke Jones

If the Orioles holding a 17-39 record and being 21 1/2 games out of first place didn’t depress you enough, below are 10 painful numbers entering the month of June:

3 – Number of winning months the Orioles have had since June 2016. Sure, the bottom fell out of a fun five-year run last September, but this club has been mediocre to bad for the better part of two years now.

3.73 — Runs scored per game to rank last in the American League. Only Miami has scored fewer per contest than an Orioles offense that was at least once feared despite its inconsistency over the years.

5.45 — Starter ERA, which ranks 28th in baseball. It’s better than last season’s 5.70 mark, but fewer runs are being scored across the majors so far in 2018, making this “improvement” even less impressive.

Minus-45 — Baltimore’s defensive runs saved total, which is last in the majors. Yes, 2014 feels like a very long time ago and the metrics match what your eyes are seeing in the field most nights.

93 — AL-high number of walks from the bullpen. The absences of Zach Britton and Darren O’Day have been tough, but not being able to throw strikes has led to a reliever ERA of 4.30, 21st in baseball.

.825 — Opposing on-base plus slugging percentage, highest in the majors. Manny Machado is the only Orioles hitter with a better OPS than what opponents are collectively doing against Baltimore pitchers.

7 — Number of wins in 30 road games. Washington has six road victories in the last week alone.

70 — How many more strikeouts the Orioles have than hits. This is a continuing trend around baseball, but being on pace to strike out 200 more times than your number of base hits is, well, something.

160 — Number of qualified major leaguers with a higher slugging percentage than Chris Davis’ .244, which ranks ahead of only Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun (.179). This is a decline of historic proportions.

0 — Number of meaningful changes or statements from ownership signaling how disastrous this season has been. Is there anybody out there?

Comments Off on Ten painful Orioles numbers entering month of June

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 9.50.43 AM

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Orioles thoughts following Memorial Day checkpoint

Posted on 29 May 2018 by Luke Jones

With one-third of the Orioles’ 2018 season officially in the books after the 6-0 loss to Washington on Monday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Orioles reached the much-discussed Memorial Day checkpoint sitting at 20 games below .500 and 20 games out of first place in the American League East. I’d say an extension to Flag Day probably isn’t necessary to determine how this organization needs to proceed.

2. Since plating 17 runs on Mother’s Day, the Baltimore lineup has scored three or fewer in 11 of 13 games. Pitching woes and bad defense haven’t surprised me, but I never expected the offense to be this consistently bad, ranking last in the AL in runs scored per game (3.83).

3. I’m unsure how good the likes of Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart, and Austin Hays will be in the majors, but watching some of the outfield combinations used by Buck Showalter in recent weeks is tiresome. I suppose a 111-loss pace reflects the amount of dead weight on the current roster.

4. Continuing to bat Chris Davis fifth or sixth is even worse.

5. Alex Cobb turned in his longest start of the season Monday, but he was plagued by a 42-pitch third inning that didn’t feature a single swing and miss. He has the worst swinging-strike percentage among pitchers completing 40 innings. His split-changeup still hasn’t returned since Tommy John surgery.

6. Davis’ performance has helped mask the struggles of Jonathan Schoop, who owns a .667 on-base plus slugging percentage and a walk rate on par with his first two seasons. The oblique strain didn’t help, but this isn’t ideal for someone needing to be re-signed or traded in the near future.

7. Many were pointing to Richard Bleier as a possible candidate to represent the Orioles at the All-Star Game if Manny Machado were to be traded before then. A 5.23 ERA in May and opponents batting .438 against him this month have certainly cooled that possibility.

8. Trey Mancini is batting .203 with a .632 OPS since banging his knee against the brick wall on April 20. He hasn’t used the knee as an excuse, but he’s hitting too many balls on the ground and his defense has taken a substantial step back from last year.

9. Concerns about Andrew Cashner being able to miss bats have been quelled by him averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings, but his previously-stellar ground-ball rate has plummeted to a career-worst 37.8 percent and he’s allowed 11 homers in 60 1/3 innings. That hasn’t been a good trade-off.

10. How big has the long-ball problem been for the rotation? Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Cashner, and Cobb all rank among the top 30 for worst homer rates in the majors among those completing at least 40 innings. Chris Tillman would also be on that list if he had enough innings.

11. This past weekend marked the six-year anniversary of Adam Jones inking his $85.5 million contract that was a winner for both sides. It represented happier times when a competitive window was just opening and the Orioles had the vision and urgency to lock up a 26-year-old entering his prime.

12. I’m unmoved about in-season firings in what’s already a lost year, but how refreshing would it be for a member of the Angelos family to speak about this being unacceptable, to vow changes, and to lay out some semblance of a vision? Is that really too much to ask?

Comments Off on Twelve Orioles thoughts following Memorial Day checkpoint