Tag Archive | "Chris Davis"

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 6-1 win over Tampa Bay

Posted on 09 April 2016 by Luke Jones

Who stood out in the Orioles’ 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night?

In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the fourth game of the 2016 season.

1stMatt Wieters didn’t homer like four of his teammates, but the veteran catcher drove in two runs with a pair of singles, the first concluding a 10-pitch battle with Rays ace Chris Archer to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth. That lengthy at-bat was a precursor to the Orioles hammering Archer in a four-run fifth that included three solo home runs and was capped off with Wieters hitting a liner off the pitcher for an infield hit and another RBI. He now has an 11-game hitting streak dating back to last season, which is a career high. Wieters also did commendable work behind the plate as three Orioles pitchers combined to retire 21 of the last 23 Tampa Bay hitters they faced.

2nd — Chris Tillman wasn’t carrying the electric stuff he displayed in two flawless innings on Opening Day before a rain delay cut his outing short, but the right-hander overcame shaky command in the early going to toss five strong innings on 83 pitches. The 27-year-old retired the final nine hitters he faced, striking out four over that stretch. In all, Tillman gave up a solo homer to Evan Longoria in the first inning and gave up just three other hits and two walks while striking out five.

3rdChris Davis hit a 406-foot homer to center in the bottom of the second inning and walked twice, eventually scoring on each of Wieters’ RBI singles. It’s that combination of power and patience that the Orioles hope to continue to see after giving their first baseman a $161 million contract this winter.

HomeT.J. McFarland gave manager Buck Showalter exactly what he was looking for after he decided not to push Tillman too hard after coming back to pitch a day early. The lefty sinkerballer retired nine of the 10 hitters he faced, which included a stretch of six straight grounders. … Jonathan Schoop, Nolan Reimold, and Manny Machado all hit solo homers off Archer in the bottom of the fifth. The Orioles are a remarkable 27-4 in games in which Schoop hits a long ball. … Rookie Joey Rickard continued a memorable opening week with two more hits and is now hitting .467 in his first four games in the majors. … Baltimore has seven home runs in four games, all of them solo shots. … The Orioles have gone 4-0 to begin a season for the eighth time in club history. Their best start came in 1970 when they began 5-0 and would win their second World Series that season. … Mike Wright is scheduled to make his 2016 debut against Drew Smyly on Saturday night, but a not-so-promising weather forecast may force a postponement.

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“Rounding the Bases” in Orioles’ 4-2 win over Minnesota

Posted on 07 April 2016 by Luke Jones

Who stood out in the Orioles’ 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night?

In the spirit of hockey’s “three stars” system with the addition of home plate for honorable mentions and other notes, we go around the bases after the second game of the 2016 season.

1stChris Davis homered at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time since Oct. 4, 2015, the game many assumed would be the slugger’s last in an Orioles uniform before he signed a seven-year, $161 million contract in January to remain in Baltimore. The 421-foot shot to center off Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson gave Baltimore the lead for good in the bottom of the third and was the Orioles’ first home run of the season. The first baseman made a good defensive play in the eighth, picking J.J. Hardy’s in-between hop on a throw and keeping his foot on the bag to record the out before tumbling over.

2ndYovani Gallardo allowed just one run and struck out four in five solid innings to win his Orioles debut. The only hits he allowed were a pair of doubles by talented Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, but Gallardo did walk three batters and induced only three grounders, which is fairly unusual for him. His velocity remains a concern as his fastball sat mostly between 87 and 88 miles per hour, but he mixed his pitches well, using his slider to strike out Byung Ho Park and Eduardo Escobar in the fourth. The 30-year-old retired seven of the final eight hitters he faced and threw 89 pitches, 52 for strikes.

3rdJoey Rickard continued to impress in his second major league game, going 2-for-3 and picking up the first RBI of his career with a sacrifice fly to left in the fourth inning. The Rule 5 pick is 4-for-7 with a double and a run scored in two games and is quickly becoming a fan favorite. Rickard also had two six-pitch at-bats on Wednesday, something manager Buck Showalter wants to see if the left fielder is to eventually become the club’s leadoff hitter.

HomeJonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters each collected RBI doubles to give the Orioles their other two runs on the night. … Zach Britton allowed a double and a walk, but the 2015 All-Star closer struck out the side to earn his first save, tying Eddie Watt for seventh on the club’s all-time saves list with 74. … Not known for his patience at the plate, Hardy drew a walk for the second straight game and saw a total of 23 pitches in four trips to the plate. The Orioles have drawn 11 walks in their first two games of the season. … Pedro Alvarez is the only regular in the lineup yet to record a hit this season, but the former Pittsburgh slugger walked twice in Wednesday’s win. … Adam Jones appeared to show some discomfort after striking out swinging in the bottom of the eighth, but Showalter said he was unaware of any issue when asked following the game. … Thursday’s announced attendance was 12,622, the Orioles’ lowest mark since April 22, 2013 if you don’t count the empty-ballpark game from last year. … Ubaldo Jimenez goes to the hill Thursday night with the Orioles in search of a three-game sweep after going 0-7 against Minnesota in 2015. He’ll be opposed by Twins right-hander Phil Hughes.

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Five things that can’t happen for 2016 Orioles

Posted on 01 April 2016 by Luke Jones

At the start of every season, we try to pinpoint what must go to plan and what cannot happen if the Orioles are to have a successful year.

In truth, there are very few absolutes you can count on over the course of a marathon 162-game schedule filled with twists and turns.

No one would have predicted a division title if they knew the Orioles would lose both Matt Wieters and Manny Machado to season-ending injuries in 2014. Last season, the discussion centered around the offseason departures of outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and the Orioles ended up scoring more runs than they did the year before — and still finished 81-81 and out of the playoffs.

You just never really know and that’s what makes the game great.

With that truth in mind, below is a stab at five things that can’t happen for the Orioles in 2016 after looking at the factors that must go right. In an effort to not be too redundant in the wake of the first piece, I tried to avoid discussing the previous points needing to go well.

1. The starting pitching collapses

Yes, we touched on the starting pitching in the previous piece, but what else could possibly top this list — the entire starting lineup adopting Marty Cordova’s tanning bed strategy for the season?

In the AL in 2015, the Baltimore starting pitchers finished 14th in in ERA, 10th in strikeouts, sixth worst in walks, and second worst in home runs allowed. On top of that, the club’s most dependable starter, Wei-Yin Chen, signed with the Miami Marlins in the offseason.

Veteran newcomer Yovani Gallardo was tabbed as the man to replace him and carries a 3.66 ERA for his career, but his strikeout rate and velocity have plummeted over the last few seasons and the Orioles renegotiated his original three-year contract because of concerns with his right shoulder. The hope is that an impressive ground-ball rate keeps the 30-year-old effective pitching at Camden Yards.

Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman provide the most upside, but the former dealt with a hip issue early in camp and is coming off his worst season since 2011. Meanwhile, Gausman will begin the season on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis and the Orioles have already pushed back his projected return date from April 10 to April 19, making you wonder if the ailment is more serious than they first indicated.

You never know what you’re going to get from Ubaldo Jimenez, but he’s been more bad than good in his first two seasons with the Orioles. And now with the Orioles having severed ties with Miguel Gonzalez, they’ll be counting on the likes of Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, and veteran newcomer Vance Worley to fill out the last spot in the rotation with Wright getting the first shot.

If this group can bring middle-of-the-pack quality — probably the most upside you could reasonably hope for — the Orioles are strong enough elsewhere to be in contention. A repeat of 2015 or worse could lead to a long summer in Baltimore.

And then you’d fear how dramatic struggles from the rotation could wear out a strong bullpen, no matter how effectively it’s managed.

2. Corner outfield wasteland repeats

The Orioles failed in their plan to use a committee of fringe veterans to handle the spots flanking center fielder Adam Jones a year ago, but questions remain for a second straight season.

Projected to be the primary starter in right field, Mark Trumbo should be an upgrade with the bat, but his limitations in the outfield are no secret and negative defensive value would wipe away much of what he brings at the plate. Fortunately, there isn’t a ton of ground to cover in right at Camden Yards, so the test will be how quickly Trumbo can get used to playing balls off the out-of-town scoreboard.

Left field was supposed to be handled by Korean newcomer Hyun Soo Kim, but his poor spring has his future in limbo. Putting aside the scouting failure of signing a player who isn’t able to catch up to fastballs and is poor defensively to a $7 million contract, the Orioles haven’t exactly treated Kim in the most hospitable way by benching him and then speaking at length to the media about his shortcomings as they’re trying to get him to accept a minor-league assignment, something he’s under no contractual obligation to do.

Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard is the wild card here after he posted a 1.029 on-base plus slugging percentage in the Grapefruit League, but are the Orioles putting too many eggs in this basket? What did Tampa Bay not like about Rickard that the Orioles could be missing?

Veteran Nolan Reimold will factor into the mix as well, but he is better suited to be a fourth outfielder at this stage of his career. The minor-league options include Dariel Alvarez, Xavier Avery, Henry Urrutia, and converted first baseman Christian Walker, who is intriguing if he proves himself defensively.

3. Chris Davis reverts to his 2014 form

You can’t expect Davis to be any better just because he signed the richest contract in franchise history in the offseason, and it will be difficult for the 30-year-old first baseman to match what he did last season with his 47 homers.

That said, few events would be more deflating than to see Davis have a season more closely resembling what he was in 2014 when he hit .196 with just 26 home runs. If the Orioles are to contend, they’re going to need to hit a ton of home runs and Davis needs to again lead the way in that department.

His ever-increasing pull rate is something to monitor and could cause him to age poorly, but the Orioles hope Davis will continue being a great power hitter for the next three to four years before crossing their fingers that the final few years of the contract aren’t as painful as some fear they will be.

4. Buck Showalter leans too heavily on J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters

I touched on these topics at length in the offseason, but the Orioles would be wise to better manage Hardy’s health after two injury-plagued seasons and shouldn’t overlook defense when it comes to the catching pair of Wieters and backup Caleb Joseph.

Hardy has stayed healthy and slugged .521 with three home runs this spring, drastic improvement from his .564 OPS while playing the entire 2015 season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The 33-year-old shortstop would likely benefit from more routine days off and should no longer be treated as the guy who missed only seven games combined in 2012 and 2013. Keeping Hardy fresh would presumably go a long way in keeping him healthy and productive at the plate and in the field.

The spring scare with Wieters’ right elbow could be a sign that he isn’t yet ready to be the guy who regularly caught 135-plus games per season prior to Tommy John surgery. Even if he is, the tools Joseph brings behind the plate shouldn’t be ignored despite Wieters being the better offensive player. If Wieters isn’t tearing the cover off the ball, the Orioles shouldn’t hesitate to use Joseph more often because of his ability to frame pitches and handle a pitching staff, especially since the former is only under contract through this season.

5. The Orioles are unable to block out the noise

It was a weird offseason a year after executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette flirted with the Toronto Blue Jays’ job promotion, and questions continue about whether members of the organization are on the same page.

The Orioles enter 2016 with a franchise-record payroll, but negotiations didn’t exactly go smoothly with Davis and the early-spring drama with both Gallardo’s physical and the twists and turns with free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler were nothing short of bizarre.

The decision to release Gonzalez this week may have been the correct one from baseball and business standpoints, but it’s no secret that the well-liked pitcher’s departure didn’t sit well with his teammates. Yes, they’re professionals and will move on, but these are human beings with emotions, as Showalter often likes to remind us.

The Kim situation threatens to linger if the Orioles choose not to eat $7 million and instead carry him on the 25-man roster after saying he wasn’t good enough to make the club. Such a scenario wouldn’t exactly send a great message to the rest of the clubhouse, either.

On top of all that, the Orioles spent a great amount of money to essentially maintain a similar roster to the group that needed a five-game winning streak just to finish .500 last season. And few experts are giving the Orioles much of a chance to make the playoffs for the third time in five years after they failed to make any significant improvements to the starting rotation.

Over the past few years, the Orioles have often thrived under such circumstances, which should give fans hope.

None of this is quantifiable, of course, but with a higher payroll come greater expectations and this is a club with a window of just three seasons before All-Star pillars Manny Machado and Adam Jones hit free agency. And the minor-league well is quite dry when it comes to reinforcements to help address deficiencies.

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2016 Orioles preview: Chris Davis

Posted on 28 March 2016 by Luke Jones

With Opening Day less than a week away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.

March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo
March 7 – Matt Wieters
March 8 – T.J. McFarland
March 9 – Dariel Alvarez
March 10 – Brian Matusz
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Mychal Givens
March 13 – Ryan Flaherty
March 14 – Ubaldo Jimenez
March 15 – Mark Trumbo
March 16 – Darren O’Day
March 18 – Pedro Alvarez
March 19 – Oliver Drake
March 20 – Mike Wright
March 21 – Zach Britton
March 22 – Caleb Joseph
March 23 – Dylan Bundy
March 24 – Christian Walker
March 25 – Chaz Roe
March 27 – Manny Machado

1B Chris Davis

Age: 30

Contract status: Under contract through the 2022 season

2015 stats: .262/.361/.562, 47 HR, 117 RBI, 100 R, 2 SB, 670 PA

Why to be impressed: The left-handed slugger has averaged just under 40 home runs per year over the last four seasons, an incredible run that earned him the richest contract in franchise history. Davis also posted a career-best 12.5 percent walk rate and fared much better against the shift in 2015, posting a .319 batting average on balls in play compared to his .242 mark in 2014.

Why to be concerned: Davis continues to pull the ball more and more and did it 10 percent more than he did in 2013, a trend that doesn’t age well and makes him easier to defend when he’s not hitting the ball out of the park. His strikeout rate (31 percent) improved from his career-worst level of 33 percent in 2014, but his contact rate (64.4 percent) was still down significantly from his 2012 and 2013 levels.

2016 outlook: We’ve seen Davis at his best and at his worst all in the last three years, making it difficult to know what to expect from the slugging first baseman. You always wonder how a player will respond to having long-term security, but I’ll bet on Davis being motivated to prove he’s worth the lucrative contract, even if it will be difficult to hover around the 50-homer mark for a third time in four years.

2016 not-so-scientific projections: .254/.355/.537, 39 HR, 101 RBI, 94 R, 2 SB, 648 PA

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Walker optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to play left field

Posted on 26 March 2016 by Luke Jones

First baseman Christian Walker was never expected to make the Opening Day Roster, but a productive spring and a position change may have put him in better position to help the Orioles in 2016.

On Saturday, Walker was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk where he will play left field every day for the Tides. The 2014 Orioles minor league player of the year turns 25 on Monday and will be playing the outfield for the first time in his minor-league career after seeing some time there in the Grapefruit League.

The position change figures to be Walker’s best chance to stick in the majors with Baltimore since Chris Davis is now under contract through the 2022 season and Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez are also options at first base for the 2016 season. Left field remains an uncertainty for the Orioles with Korean newcomer Hyun Soo Kim and Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard battling for playing time to begin the season, but Walker could make himself an attractive option if he can hold up at his new defensive spot.

In 44 spring at bats, Walker hit .227 with four home runs, 14 RBIs, four doubles, a triple, two walks, and an .881 on-base plus slugging percentage. He has just 31 plate appearances in the major leagues over the last two seasons, but he hit .257 with 18 homers, 74 RBIs, and a .748 OPS at Norfolk in 2015.

With Walker being cut from the spring training roster, the Orioles now have 43 players remaining in major league camp, which includes eight non-roster invitees.

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Alvarez, Orioles agree to one-year deal

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Luke Jones

After spending much of the offseason trying to add another outfielder such as Dexter Fowler or Austin Jackson, the Orioles have called an audible to add another left-handed bat to the 2016 mix.

According to multiple outlets, the club agreed to a one-year, $5.75 million contract with former Pittsburgh corner infielder Pedro Alvarez. Of course, the deal is pending a physical.

Given the 29-year-old’s well-documented defensive limitations at both first base and third base, the Orioles are expected to make Alvarez their designated hitter with Mark Trumbo likely serving as the primary right fielder. The move certainly adds more power to a lineup that was already strong in that department, but how much it might negatively impact the defense with Trumbo in right is a fair question.

Alvarez, the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, has hit 27 or more home runs in three of the last four seasons. In 150 games for the Pirates last year, he hit .243 with 27 homers, 77 RBIs, and a .787 on-base plus slugging percentage.

His best season came in 2013 when he clubbed 36 homers and drove in 100 runs to make the All-Star team, but Alvarez is also prone to striking out and led the NL with 186 strikeouts that season. Unlike new teammate and the strikeout-prone Chris Davis, however, Alvarez doesn’t show good patience at the plate and has drawn no more than 57 walks in a season.

Despite Alvarez being under club control for the 2016 season, the Pirates elected not to tender him a contract in December, making him a free agent.

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Pot-committed Orioles may need to push chips in on Gallardo

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have pushed plenty of chips to the center of the poker table this winter.

A seven-year commitment to first baseman Chris Davis worth $161 million, the richest contract in franchise history.

Making All-Star relief pitcher Darren O’Day one of the highest-paid setup men in the majors.

Paying just under $25 million for the services of three-time All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and designated hitter Mark Trumbo for the 2016 season.

In other words, the Orioles are what the poker world labels as “pot-committed” with a projected payroll now north of $130 million. But there’s still a problem with that spending.

They’re currently no better than they were a season ago when they finished 81-81. In fact, they’re worse on paper after the free-agent departure of starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and his 3.72 ERA over the last four seasons.

It’s reasonable to expect Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez to rebound — at least somewhat — from last year’s difficulties, but that doesn’t mean a return to their exceptional performances of 2014, either. Kevin Gausman could be ready to take off at age 25 and the Orioles may see more good Ubaldo Jimenez than the bad Jimenez in 2016, but that would still be too much hoping and not enough improving.

After turning their nose up to the cost of starting pitching all winter, the Orioles find few viable options remaining. The likes of David Price or Zack Greinke were never realistic, but second- and third-tier options such as Scott Kazmir (three years, $48 million) or even Doug Fister (one year, $7 million) were still available to slot into a thin rotation.

That finally brings us to Yovani Gallardo, the man linked to the Orioles throughout the offseason and probably the best option remaining on the market. Soon to be 30, the veteran right-hander is far from a sure bet despite a career-best 3.42 ERA in 2015 and a 3.66 lifetime mark in the majors.

Signing him would require the Orioles to forfeit the 14th overall selection of the 2016 draft after Texas made him a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason. That is an understandable deterrent for an organization in need of restocking its farm system, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said several times this offseason that the Orioles would prefer not to forfeit the pick.

Despite a strong ground-ball rate hovering around 50 percent that would figure to be perfect for Oriole Park at Camden Yards and a strong infield defense, Gallardo has seen his average fastball velocity dip from 92.6 miles per hour in 2011 to 90.5 with the Rangers last season. His strikeout rate has declined in three straight seasons and fell to a career-low 5.9 per nine innings in 2015 after averaging more than a strikeout per inning in his first six major league seasons.

Those numbers make a long-term commitment to Gallardo a risky one, but he’s still a much better option than the newly-acquired Odrisamer Despaigne, Vance Worley, Mike Wright, or Tyler Wilson, who are more scratch-off lottery tickets than good starting candidates for a club already lacking dynamic talent in its first four starter spots. Even if you’re not keen on the Orioles giving Gallardo a long-term contract, he would instantly move to the top half of the rotation and slide the aforementioned names into more appropriate roles as relievers or depth at the Triple-A level.

Losing the 14th overall pick would be disappointing, but the Orioles would still hold five selections in the first 100 spots. An increased financial commitment to international talent — something the organization should be making anyway — could also offset that sacrifice.

At the start of the offseason, Gallardo would have been far from the top choice, but the Orioles are now less than two weeks away from spring training and haven’t replaced their best starter from a year ago when their rotation finished 14th in the American League in ERA. Beggars can’t be choosers when you’re in need of starting pitching at this late stage of the winter.

Gallardo’s addition wouldn’t guarantee a trip to the playoffs, but it would be foolish to spend as much as the Orioles have this winter without seriously addressing a rotation that was the biggest reason for their downfall in 2015. There’s no sense in playing a high-stakes hand of poker if you’re just going to muck your cards after committing more than $200 million earlier this offseason.

If you’re going to do it, go all the way.

The Orioles’ spending says they’re in win-now mode — especially with both Manny Machado and Adam Jones hitting free agency after the 2018 season — but their starting rotation suggests otherwise. There isn’t enough depth, and there certainly isn’t enough quality depth.

Signing Gallardo comes with risk and sacrifice, but he could help a neglected rotation compete in 2016.

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Orioles haven’t found pitching they like for prices they like

Posted on 22 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Having just signed the richest deal in franchise history, first baseman Chris Davis stated the obvious when asked Thursday what else the Orioles still need for the 2016 season.

“Obviously, we lost [Wei-Yin] Chen,” Davis said, “so I think we need another starting pitcher.”

The answer probably wasn’t music to the ears of Dan Duquette after the organization awarded the 29-year-old slugger with a seven-year, $161 million contract, but the executive vice president of baseball operations said at the start of the offseason that upgrading the starting rotation would be a top priority. And that was before Chen, their most consistent starter over the last four seasons, signed a five-year, $80 million contract to join the Miami Marlins.

With spring training less than a month away, the remaining options are few for a club that finished 14th in the American League in starter ERA in 2015, which included Chen’s 3.34 mark over 31 starts.

“We’re still looking for additions to our pitching staff,” Duquette said. “It takes a lot of energy to sign a star player for an organization. Obviously, we have a long-term deal with Chris, and we’re happy to have him here. We’re always cognizant of what we need to add to our pitching staff. We haven’t found the pitching that we really like at the prices we like. That’s been a very, very expensive market this offseason, but I’m confident we’ll be able to come up with the pitching that we need to compete.”

How costly has it been?

Even Davis’ agent, Scott Boras, commented on the high demand for starting pitching this offseason after he negotiated five-year contracts for Chen and Kansas City starter Ian Kennedy and even fetched a two-year, $16 million deal for Mike Pelfrey — and his career 4.52 ERA — in Detroit. Boras said this has affected the timing of the market for position players such as Davis.

Of the 10 contracts worth $80 million or more that have been signed this winter, seven have gone to starting pitchers.

“We’ve had eight pitchers sign five-or-more-year contracts in this market,” Boras said. “That’s unheard of. The demand on pitching quelled the market on offensive power, because the teams were so focused. So many teams needed pitching and needed offense, but the competitiveness for the pitching took a focus.”

So, who’s left?

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo turns 30 next month and has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his seven full seasons in the majors, but his strikeout rate has rapidly declined from 9.0 per nine innings in 2012 to just 5.9 last year and the Orioles would have to forfeit their 2016 first-round pick to sign him.

The 28-year-old Mat Latos was an above-average starter in the National League — he had a 3.34 career ERA entering 2015 — until injuries derailed his last two seasons and questions arose about his attitude after his trade from Cincinnati to Miami last offseason. At this point, he could be looking for a one-year pillow contract to re-establish his value, but Camden Yards wouldn’t be the ideal setting for that from his perspective.

Like Latos, signing right-hander Doug Fister wouldn’t require a draft pick, but he will be 32 and has seen his strikeout and groundball rates decline as well as his velocity. However, he does have experience pitching in the AL and won 16 games and posted a 2.41 ERA in 2014.

There isn’t much out there beyond that, unless you want to try to take Tim Lincecum for a ride in your DeLorean.

“There are some pitchers out there that we like, and then we have talked to some other teams about pitching,” Duquette said. “The problem with the pitching market is there have been more teams chasing fewer pitchers. There’s not enough to go around. That’s an age-old problem. But it was very acute this winter.”

Even if the Orioles are to pluck one of the aforementioned options from the market, none would be a guarantee to settle into the top half of the rotation, much less headline the group. Depth will remain a concern with the likes of Vance Worley, Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, T.J. McFarland, or a stretched-out Brian Matusz waiting in the wings.

The need for Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez to return to pre-2015 form and for Kevin Gausman to take a a major step forward has been discussed ad nauseam, but injuries — at least minor ailments — are inevitable over the course of a 162-game schedule and Baltimore appears ill-equipped to endure that reality. Duquette’s statements about the pitching market on Thursday may have contained truth, but the Orioles annually lament a free-agent market that’s more expensive than they anticipated.

That won’t make fans feel any better about the state of the rotation.

“We should have a good defensive team,” Duquette said. “We’ve got a lot of the core back. We should be strong up the middle. We have Buck’s leadership and the bullpen, and I think those are all strengths of the team that we can build on. We’re going to have to get some good performance from the pitchers that we have and then continue to add to that.”

The Orioles still have a lot going for them, and there is some reasonable upside to help fill the void left by Chen. Doubts entering the season certainly existed prior to 2012 when the club unexpectedly returned to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years and before 2014 when the Orioles endured season-ending injuries to Manny Machado and Matt Wieters to win their first AL East title since 1997.

It’s a reality in which the Orioles have thrived, according to Davis.

“That’s kind of been our MO the last few years,” Davis said. “We’ve never been the sexy team, so to speak — the easy pick to win the AL East. I think we kind of like that role.”

Hopefully, the starting rotation will feel the same way.

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 4): Sue, sue, sue for the home team – Angelos v. Everyone

Posted on 22 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“If we hadn’t reached a resolution with him, there is no doubt in my mind he would have sued,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s former president and chief operating officer. “He told my people he would sue and his professional background suggested that he was willing to sue.”

Bob DuPuy

Former MLB Chief Operating Officer

The New York Times

Aug. 19, 2011

 

 

Over the past decade, it’s clear that the script of “How to win the war with Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals over $298 million” reads directly from the Peter G. Angelos law firm playbook.

There’s not one step in this process where litigation wasn’t threatened or, inevitably, enacted. The money – as we’ve outlined in the previous three chapters of this “MASN Money For Dummies” series – per this unique arrangement with Bud Selig and the MLB owners, has all been designed from the outset to funnel into his pockets.

And anyone not named Angelos who believes they’re entitled to it can line up with their lawyers and watch his legal team dance – all while dangling the hundreds of millions of dollars that’s currently sitting in his coffers. Later in this series, I’ll examine the world from Angelos’ point of view and what it’s meant to the baseball operation of the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s very clear to anyone watching this epic legal struggle that there’s an astonishing amount of money at stake.

Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals are circling like buzzards to see what they can get – knowing they made a vague deal with a megalomaniac who has no intentions of ever giving any of them a nickel of the now billions in real money and value they’ve funneled his way since 2005.

If you want the money, you can deal with all of the aggravation, testimony, documents, discovery and lawyering up that Peter G. Angelos can muster and try to come and get it. Bud Selig left his throne without getting any closer than his successor Rob Manfred is getting. The dispute is now into its fifth year of absolute acrimony.

It was a fascinating admission on the part of Bob DuPuy, who was the foil in the Angelos-MLB negotiation at every turn in 2004 and 2005, that Angelos might be litigious. Some joked that DuPuy kept Amtrak in business, back and forth to Baltimore from New York to get a deal done for “Buddy,” who somehow thought he could strike up a reasonable agreement with Angelos after he crossed him by bringing a team to Washington.

Many make the mistake in believing that Angelos only likes asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits.

Au, contraire.

Angelos stormed about legal action against Albert Belle and voiding his contract after he gave a fan the middle finger at Camden Yards, and eventually saved $30 million with an insurance claim that the team went to great lengths to enact.

He got the city to threaten to sue MLB back in 1994, after he walked away from his fellow owners in the labor stoppage in 1995 when they wanted to field replacement players.

He threatened the NFL when he tried to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even drew the attention of Art Modell before the Ravens came to Baltimore.

He’s fought with Ed Hale over billboards, aesthetics and advertising revenue at the then-First Mariner Arena.

He famously brought Russell Smouse, his lead lawyer, into the Orioles front office to keep things in order.

He threatened litigation and breach of contract with Dan Duquette in 2014, which is why the guy who’s currently running the team is still “running the team.”

Angelos wound up in a dispute with former GM Frank Wren over $400,000 after doing everything possible to publicly humiliate him with “causes” for his firing in the media. And that was 17 years ago.

And then, of course, the Angelos standby in contract negotiations with baseball players is the “player physical,” which has become something …

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 3): Angelos was bleeding cash when Nats money came

Posted on 19 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

 

 

Those who complain don’t know the ins and outs of what’s going on. They have their own lives to lead, their own problems to deal with. And they are not going to become acquainted with what our economics are, and you can’t expect them to.”

Peter G. Angelos, May 2006

                                                                                 (as told to PressBox via Q&A)

 

 

THE SINCERE HOPE OF PETER G. Angelos is that you’re too dumb to figure this stuff out and too bored to read all of this vital information about where the money comes from. Especially now that Chris Davis has signed a long-term contract, which isn’t a blip on the radar of the finances of the franchise when you do the real math, many fans somehow believe that it was an incredible stretch to find the money to pay him.

Here’s the truth: knowing the facts about how much money the MASN tree is printing for Angelos and his family certainly doesn’t reflect well upon his legacy or commitment to winning. Especially when you consider that the team has been an abject failure on the field in 18 of the 22 seasons under this ownership group.

I love how Chris Davis said “we want to continue a tradition of winning here in Baltimore.” Spoken like a babe in arms. It’s kinda nice that he thinks that but that’s far from the truth. The Orioles haven’t “won” anything under the reign of Peter G. Angelos.

But Mr. Angelos has made a LOT of money – and after he lost a LOT of money.

But to understand the money – and where it came from and where it’s going – is to understand the Orioles’ offseason budgeting and what they’re trying to do on the field. From Chris Davis to Matt Wieters to Darren O’Day, it’s the money that funds the players.

As Buck Showalter said at the winter meetings on December 8th from Nashville on MLB Network TV: “We have plenty of money.”

Today, we’ll examine the history of Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles ownership group and the birth of MASN and the Washington Nationals and how this nuclear war for the biggest pile of television money in local sports history began.

In the Fall of 2004, Peter G. Angelos, as usual, was preparing for war – this time with his partners over the concept of baseball in the nation’s capital. Realizing that commissioner Bud Selig and the owners of the 29 other MLB teams, who collectively had purchased the Montreal Expos, were hell bent on moving that franchise to Washington, D.C., John Angelos issued an internal memo cutting all expenses.

Of course, some saw this as a sign that he was about to sell the Orioles to local money manager Chip Mason.

“The mere issuance of a memorandum suggesting potential savings in a greater degree in efficiency of operations does not suggest that the enterprise being reviewed is for sale,” Angelos told The Baltimore Sun. “To suggest otherwise is absurd and clearly erroneous.”

The team had just invested $121.5 million into contracts for Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmeiro and Sidney Ponson. “The millions recently spent on player acquisitions hardly suggest we’re on a cost-cutting crusade,” Angelos told the local newspaper. “On the contrary, we are moving forward aggressively to produce a very competitive and winning team for our fans both this year and in the years ahead.”

At this point, Angelos was very quietly hemorrhaging money by the tens of millions. In the early days, he bragged about the Orioles making money to The Baltimore Sun.

Seven years earlier, Angelos sat with me at The Barn in March 1997 on WLG-AM 1360 and went through a lengthy diatribe about how baseball could never work with two teams – one in Baltimore and one in Washington, D.C. (and at that point Northern Virginia seemed a far more likely destination). But he also told me that the Orioles lost $4 million the previous year – and that’s when they were selling 3.6 million tickets and winning.

Feel free to listen to that conversation here:

This Chapter 3 of my MASN Money For Dummies series will be brief because I’ve already written this part of the Angelos journey as Chapter 12 of The Peter Principles, a book I’ve been writing about the ownership of Peter G. Angelos.

I would cut and paste it here, but just click here and continue reading the history of how this MASN money gravy train began with the poor negotiation tactics of Bud Selig to deal with the likes of Peter Angelos. It’s now 12 years later and nothing is really solved except that the money is flowing in by the tens of millions every month via your cable television bill and MLB and the Nationals, along with owner Ted Lerner, haven’t figured out a way to extract their “fair share.”

In 1994, Angelos said about Selig during the MLB owners dispute with the Major League Baseball Players Association: “He is a very successful automobile dealer. What makes him think he has the abilities to do what he is trying to do here is beyond my comprehension!”

Angelos infuriated every partner in Major League Baseball in 1994. In 2002, he came back to save the day as a lead negotiator – and olive branch Democrat who curried favor with the Players’ Association – for Selig and his MLB partners. But at every turn he made it very clear that any notion of a team anywhere near Washington or Northern Virginia would never be acceptable under any condition.

Angelos lobbied many times and in many ways to keep baseball out of Washington, D.C. long before 2004.

“It isn’t that we would deny the people that live in those areas the recreational pursuit of baseball. We think baseball is a great game for everybody. But when we look at the experience of Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco – Boston and Philadelphia and St. Louis had two ballclubs. The history of baseball dictates that you can’t put two teams that close together. We are opposing that. We think Orioles baseball is plenty good enough for us as well as the people in the Washington suburbs and we thank them for that support and we want to retain that support.”

At the 2004 All Star Game in Houston, it appeared that Bud Selig was still unsure of the future of the Expos.

“I will not do anything to make Peter Angelos unhappy,” Selig told The New York Times.

It’s interesting to do the research and see the local media’s role in garnering the Washington Nationals for the nation’s capital. The Washington Post played as big of a role in the franchise and ballpark as it …

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