Posted on 19 October 2015 by WNST Staff
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Posted on 14 October 2015 by WNST Staff
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Posted on 31 August 2015 by Luke Jones
Hindsight is always crystal clear and it takes no baseball genius to see that the Orioles trading Jake Arrieta to the Chicago Cubs looks like a terrible decision two years later.
But as Orioles fans wondered what might have been Sunday night as Arrieta pitched a no-hitter in Chavez Ravine — his league-leading 17th win of the season — many of those same individuals screamed for the organization to give up on the right-hander in 2013 when he sported a 5.46 career ERA in parts of four seasons in Baltimore. In trading Arrieta and erratic relief pitcher Pedro Strop, the Orioles picked up starting pitcher Scott Feldman (and catcher Steve Clevenger) to help in a push for a second straight playoff appearance that ultimately fell short.
Though executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette fetched an underwhelming return for two flawed pitchers who still possessed plenty of upside and have gone on to have much success in Chicago, the big-picture concern is the Orioles’ longstanding inability to develop young pitching as Arrieta is just one in a long list of talented prospects not to pan out in Baltimore for a variety of reasons.
But that isn’t even the part of the equation that stings the most when you look back at the circumstances of the time. Despite electric stuff that Arrieta flashed on more than one occasion, the 27-year-old made just six career appearances with the Orioles out of the bullpen. There’s no disputing that he didn’t belong in the rotation with a 7.23 ERA in 2013, but why didn’t the Orioles move an arm such as his to the bullpen in a long relief role on at least a temporary basis?
Because the Orioles had Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland stuck there.
If McFarland would have at least developed into a solid No. 4 or No. 5 starter by this point, everyone would still second-guess the Arrieta deal, but at least you could say the Orioles had brought another viable starter into the picture. Instead, the 26-year-old lefty is plugging away in a very similar role two years later and hasn’t been a real difference-maker.
Many have questioned the Orioles’ strange obsession with the Rule 5 draft and you can’t help but wonder if maybe — just maybe — Arrieta would have eventually figured it out after some time in the bullpen to either become a successful starter or at least move into a meaningful bullpen role in a way similar to All-Star closer Zach Britton. Maybe such a strategy would have only been delaying an inevitable release or a different trade down the line, but it would have been another avenue to explore with an untapped talent.
Instead, the organization viewed McFarland as the preferable option moving forward, which makes you doubt its talent evaluation in addition to the ability to develop pitchers.
A change of scenery ultimately worked perfectly for Arrieta as he’s blossomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. No one would have reasonably bet on him finding this dramatic level of success when he was traded, but it’s disappointing that the organization preferred to trade him in order to rent an average starting pitcher — Feldman was never going to substantially move the meter in a playoff race — and to keep a lesser Rule 5 arm in a bullpen role perfectly suited for Arrieta at the time.
It isn’t so terrible that the Orioles gave up on Arrieta after 358 major league innings consisting of more hair-pulling frustration than success. Already 27 at the time, Arrieta may have never figured it out in Baltimore.
But what stings is the organization trading him away for little upside in return and without exhausting every avenue to try to make it work.
Posted on 28 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio
Wrigley Field – Sure, there’s the old world charm about the home of the Chicago Cubs. Yes, it was built a hundred years ago. But every time I think about going to a game at Wrigley Field it’s one giant pain in the ass. The parking. The people. The place is built about five times smaller than it should be. One bonus: it has troughs, which makes it legit. But, unless you buy a seat in the bleachers (and those seats are always premium priced) you can’t even visit to take a picture. The place really smacks of corporate greed and has for most of my lifetime. The team always sucks (except when Jake Arrieta is involved). The food and choices suck. The scoreboards are still so antiquated as to be confusing. Seriously, I put it even a little higher on this list than I thought it deserves to be because my wife likes it but I think the place mostly sucks. It’s a great throwback experience. They’ve done a nice job of keeping it clean but it’s such a tourist trap of a place for my tastes. Sure, you gotta go and I get that. But I’m glad my team doesn’t play there and that I don’t have to get scalped for a C-minus experience every time I visit. I’m not planning on going back anytime soon and I don’t feel like I’m missing much. It’s a far better place on TV.
But, you still gotta go and see it.
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Posted on 16 December 2014 by Luke Jones
Searching to fill the void left behind by the departure of Andrew Miller, the Orioles agreed to terms on a one-year deal with left-handed relief pitcher Wesley Wright on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old went 0-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 48 1/3 innings with the Chicago Cubs last season. In seven major league seasons, Wright sports a 10-18 record with a 4.17 ERA, but the lefty has posted a 3.25 ERA in his last four seasons split among Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Houston.
In 2014, left-handed hitters posted a .273 batting average and a .594 on-base plus slugging percentage and didn’t record an extra-base hit while right-handed bats sported a .255 mark with a .719 OPS. Wright wasn’t tendered a contract with the Cubs and is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
Wright’s addition gives manager Buck Showalter another left-hander to throw into the mix with closer Zach Britton, lefty specialist Brian Matusz, and long reliever T.J. McFarland. Matusz has been discussed in trade talks, but he remains with the organization for now.
A seventh-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2003 draft, Wright made two appearances with the Rays in the 2013 American League Division Series, allowing a hit and a walk in two-thirds of an inning against Boston.
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Posted on 23 August 2014 by WNST Staff
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Posted on 06 June 2014 by WNST Staff
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland right hander Jake Stinnett has been selected in the second round (45th overall) of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago Cubs.
Stinnett is the 15th Terrapin to be drafted over the last four years and is the highest-selected Maryland player since Brett Cecil was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round (38th overall pick) of the 2007 draft.
A second team All-ACC selection as a senior, Stinnett has served as Maryland’s Friday night ace throughout the 2014 campaign leading the Terps to their first NCAA Super Regional appearance in program history this weekend against Virginia.
The Vista, Calif., native has compiled a 7-6 record in 15 starts (2.65 ERA), striking out a program-record and ACC-best 130 batters in 112.0 innings this season. Opponents are hitting just .192 against the righty hurler, which ranks third in the ACC.
This season, Stinnett accomplished a feat not seen in the ACC since 2006 winning weekly player of the week honors four times.
Stinnett was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, but chose to remain at Maryland for his senior season.
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Posted on 31 May 2014 by WNST Staff
It’s not that he’s not good enough.
Jeff Samardzija is pitching as well as anyone in the Big Leagues. His 1.68 ERA, along with his 1.06 WHIP are certainly stats to write home about. By any estimation, the Cubs’ current ace is a bona fide number-one starter on the majority of the seven-plus teams who are currently coveting his services.
But, while his 2014 numbers have been stellar through the end of May, baseball has a way of making players turn into who they really are. And, over the long haul, Samardzija isn’t an ace and probably isn’t worth the asking price of a king’s ransom, two first-borns, and nude pictures of the acquiring team’s GM’s wife.
The Orioles, sitting at a game below-.500 aren’t only “a player away” from being a true contender. They’re at least a starter, a closer, a left fielder, and a fast table-setting leadoff hitter away from being the class of the AL East. This, coupled with the hard-luck the club has faced with injuries thus far, makes it a no-brainer to pump the brakes on the idea of sending the likes of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, or Eddy Rodriguez to the Cubs in exchange for a 29-year-old starter who has never won double-digit games in the Major Leagues.
Some will make the argument that Samardzija would be a perennial double-digit wins guy if he had any offensive support–but what pitcher wouldn’t? The same argument could be made for the Bud Norris’, Miguel Gonzalez’s, and Wei-yin Chen’s of the world; each of whom are capable of 10-12 wins with some decent four-plus runs per game type of support.
Bringing a pitcher like Samardzija to Baltimore in exchange for two potential front-end starters isn’t the type of trade that creates long-term success. It’s a stop-gap. It’s a short-term “what have you done for me lately” type of move.
For what it’s worth, if you look at the Cubs rotation, Samardzija’s numbers aren’t even the best of the bunch. In fact, Oriole castoff Jason Hammel, has five wins and a WHIP of 0.91. And, if you want to argue that “wins” are an overblown statistic, please, go for it. But keep in mind, at the end of the season, the teams that play in October play because of that very statistic.
Some guys are winner and some aren’t. There are intangibles that some pitchers have and others don’t. Before falling in love with the idea that “wins” don’t matter, or “Samardzija would be great on another team,” I’ll toss out some names like the aforementioned Norris, C.J. Wilson, Edwin Jackson, and all of the other pitchers who have convinced fans and front office execs that their mediocrity is based on their surroundings.
When he gets traded, and there’s no doubt he will, Samardzija will help out wherever he goes. He’ll bolster a contending team’s rotation.
But the Orioles don’t really need that. They need to make the long-play, and he’s the wrong guy for anything like that.
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Posted on 28 May 2014 by Luke Jones
The Orioles need better starting pitching and they need an ace if they truly want to compete for a World Series title.
That cry has been uttered by fans and media alike for the better part of two years — even longer if you prefer going back to the free-agent departure of Mike Mussina after the 2000 season — as the rotation has mostly been comprised of arms with the ability of No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 starters who have often struggled to pitch deep into games, leaving the bullpen overworked and eventually worn out.
It comes as no surprise to see the reaction to a CBS Chicago report suggesting the Orioles are the “leading team of interest” in Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who currently sports a miniscule 1.68 earned run average through his first 11 starts of the 2014 season. That mark is second in the majors despite the 29-year-old being limited to a 1-4 record pitching for the woeful Cubs.
There’s no disputing Samardzija being a talented pitcher as he would be a clear upgrade in the starting rotation, but he’s also expected to be one of the top commodities available on the open market this summer. And that’s why it’s a dangerous proposition to bid on a solid pitcher who’s having a career season if you’re the Orioles or any club hot after his services.
As desperate as the Orioles should be for better starting pitching with their best competitive window closing after the 2015 season when Matt Wieters and Chris Davis are both scheduled to become free agents, Samardzija needs to be viewed for who he really is and not what the Orioles want him to be. The right-hander is off to an unbelievable start, but his 3.90 career ERA and 4.34 ERA pitching in the National League Central only last year suggest he isn’t much more than a solid upgrade and is not someone worth gutting a top-heavy minor-league system to acquire.
In other words, the Orioles wouldn’t be getting a David Price or a Cliff Lee in adding the 6-foot-5 right-hander to the starting rotation. And pitching in the American League East is a different story than the National League.
The Cubs are undoubtedly looking for a king’s ransom in exchange for Samardzija’s services, and there will be plenty of clubs looking to acquire him, which will further drive up the price. Should the Orioles be willing to part with some combination of top pitching prospects Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey, and Eduardo Rodriguez in order to land him?
It’s true that the Orioles have far too often been disappointed in waiting for a slew of top prospects to realize their potential in recent years, but that doesn’t mean executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette should willingly fork over what few minor-league pieces he has for what history suggests is an improvement but not a dynamic difference-maker to put the Orioles over the top. It will ultimately come down to Chicago’s asking price and how many teams are sold on Samardzija’s start in 2014 and the idea of him truly being an ace.
Is Samardzija — who is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season — worth the combination of Rodriguez and 21-year-old second baseman Jonathan Schoop or the package of one of Gausman, Bundy, or Harvey and a lower-level prospect? Perhaps, but if other clubs are willing to exceed that kind of a deal, the Orioles must remember that Samardzija’s 66 career starts prior to 2014 suggest he’s not even as good as Ubaldo Jimenez.
Despite his tiny ERA, Samardzija is averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014 — actually down from his career average of 8.5 — and a .269 batting average on balls in play against him provides statistical evidence suggesting he won’t sustain his incredible start, which even the layman would predict anyway.
It’s a difficult call as the Orioles appeared to signal during spring training that they’re finally “going for it” after investing $50 million in Jimenez and signing slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract. Throwing money at free-agent commodities is one thing, but giving up young and cheap talent in a farm system needing more depth is a dangerous proposition if you’re not overwhelmed with what you’re getting in return.
The Orioles know their best window for competing is closing with Cruz, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis set to become free agents after this season and Davis and Wieters the year after. If there were ever a time for the Orioles to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, it’s now, particularly with the AL East looking very average.
But is the Chicago pitcher the right target?
Samardzija would improve the rotation, but whether the Orioles would be so much better with him that Duquette should pony up a couple of his top pitching prospects is open for debate.
And the history before the first two months of 2014 suggests the answer is probably not.
Posted on 02 February 2014 by WNST Staff
The Chicago Cubs have invited 24 non-roster players to major league spring training, which begins Thursday, February 13 when pitchers and catchers are invited to report in advance of their first formal workout on Friday, February 14 at Cubs Park in Mesa, Ariz.
Position players are invited to report to camp Tuesday, February 18 with the team’s first full squad workout Wednesday, February 19.
The following nine pitchers have been invited to major league camp: right-handed pitchers Marcus Hatley, Kyle Hendricks, Carlos Pimentel, Armando Rivero and Brian Schlitter, as well as left-handed pitchers Tommy Hottovy, Eric Jokisch, Jonathan Sanchez and Tsuyoshi Wada.
Five infielders have been invited to major league camp: Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Ryan Roberts, Chris Valaika and Jeudy Valdez.
Seven outfielders have been invited to big league camp: Albert Almora, Chris Coghlan, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Kalish, Mitch Maier, Darnell McDonald and Casper Wells.
Three catchers have been invited to big league camp: John Baker, Rafael Lopez and Eli Whiteside.
Additionally, minor league catchers Luis Flores and Will Remillard will assist at times in big league camp.
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