Tag Archive | "Dan Duquette"

Pearce HR 9-16

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SEVENTEEN YEARS IN THE WAITING

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Tom Federline

“Sweeeeeeeeet Emoooootion” – Aerosmith. Just keep playing that song in your head. How ’bout ‘dem O’s hun? WOW! 8 – 2 win over the whining, scum beaning Blow Jays. The Division East Title and then………. the celebration. If you were there, nice pull. If you watched it, baseball entertainment at its’ finest (and no Gary Thorne – in our side). If you heard it, someone should put a tape of it in a time capsule. If you are an Orioles fan……………it’s been a long time comin’. “O” what a feeling.

People keep saying it’s been 17 years since the last division title. And they are right – in 1997 the O’s went wire-to-wire in first place. The teams of 1996 and ’97 were a reflection of Angelos’ attempt to buy a World Series.  They were expected to win and they did. But the World Series appearance – didn’t happen. In ’96, they beat the Indians for the ALDS and lost to the Yankees in the ALCS. Yes, that was the year of  Jeffrey Maier/Rich Garcia incident. In ’97 they went 98 – 64 and beat the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS, then lost to the Indians in the ALCS (Armando Benitez blown game in 11 innings after the O’s had 10 hits to Clevelands 3). But this year, is different. It’s a different feeling, a different team chemistry, a different era. It feels like ………..brace yourself……….the “Oriole Way”!

Back in ’96 and ’97, there were names like Alomar, Palmeiro, Davis (Eric), Bonilla, Erickson, Key, Meyers, Wells, Davey Johnson and yes - Ripken, Murray. All great players. All with hefty paychecks.  All with hefty egos. Most of them brought in to simply take the dreaded “evil empire down”. And they did. They just didn’t make it to the big dance. The 2014 Division title winners has names like Pearce, Schoop, Flaherty, Caleb Joseph, Chen, Tilman, Britton, Buck-Buck and yes, Jones, Markakis and Hardy. All with a story, all without such egos, all with their own nuances of how this cast of characters combined to take the AL East by storm since July.

Three big reasons why they are where they are. Markakis, Cruz, Pearce. Pearces’ blast last night to clearly send the message to the Blow Jays – Not Tonight! “The Answer – in the first inning.”

This year is unique. They won when they weren’t expected to. Yeah, we all HOPED and thought they had a chance. But come on, Weiters going down, Manny on DL to start and to finish, the big Ubaldomore bust, Hunter blowin’ it in the closer role, Davis not hitting for any type of average and then pulling a numbnut move……….come on, our hopes were stretching it. But the O’s never gave up. Yes, I’ll say it………they “Grind it out” and it’s true…..it’s what they do. Very few blow-outs. Even up against tough pitching and unless that guy had enough in the tank to complete the game……….it always seemed they had a chance. They playing through adversity, have perseverance and faith that they have what it takes. You go O’s or should that be “Let’s Go O’s”!

How about that crowd last night? The Yard/pot was a brewin’ since the Friday afternoon game vs. the Yankees. There was an explosion of cheers after that 11th inning win, that rivaled the Blue Angels fly byes, that day. And last night, whether on the radio or television, you could feel the adrenaline pumping from Camden Yards. Pearces’ blast in the first inning set the tone. Jimenez working out of trouble was refreshing. Then the solidifier – De Aza’s triple. So cool. They were not going to be denied. Even with the whining scum Blow Jays attempting some sort of retaliation from the night before and for what it still baffles me. Toronto Blow Jays organization = Classless. You go Darren O’day – O’day! You earned a vote for Oriole MVP.

Speaking of which, who is your Oriole MVP of 2014? If they win the World Series, it’s hands down, Buck-Buck. As far as players, I’ll go with,  hmmmm, “I wonder who Fedman would pick?” Yes, the best right fielder in baseball – Markakis. ”Nicky” stepping up and taking on the lead-off roll, being the longest tenured Oriole and a stellar example of how the game should be played – It’s Markakis! With Steve Pearce a close 2nd.

They have put themselves in the position to excel. They have a shot. They have Buck-Buck. It would be nice if the O’s can make it into October intact as they are right now. It would be extremely undesirable to lose a key player now. Duquette has been playing a nice poker game so far. He’s brought in some nice “gold nuggets”, as Buck-Buck would say. They have been surprising. Now it’s time to hunker down, stay fresh and minimize potential injury. What a run. So cool. I would rather not see Detroit in the playoffs. But you know what? Hopefully, these Birds are going to continue to surprise us. What a Wednesday. What a celebration of Sweeeeeet Emoootion.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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Nothing typical about these AL East champion Orioles

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Nothing typical about these AL East champion Orioles

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — For years, the discrepancy was clear as the Orioles wallowed at the bottom of the American League East.

Lagging behind in payroll and player development, they looked up at the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays while being stuck in neutral with no apparent direction or plan of how to get better. The Orioles didn’t spend like New York or Boston and couldn’t cultivate their own talent like Tampa Bay while suffering through a seemingly endless run of fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the toughest division in baseball year in and year out.

When the Orioles finally broke through Tuesday night with an 8-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays to win their first AL East title since 1997, it was an atypical sum of the parts that put them on top. Yes, their payroll is higher now than it was for years, but it still remains in the middle of the pack and far below those of the Yankees and Red Sox. Their farm system has produced a number of key players, but it isn’t the well-oiled machine like those of other top organizations in baseball.

It started with Andy MacPhail using some savvy trades and top draft picks to put together a core group of All-Star talent and continued with the arrival of manager Buck Showalter and current executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who began filling in the gaps with below-the-radar additions and, finally, a couple high-profile free agents this past winter. What’s resulted is a club that’s won more than 90 games for the second time in three years and appears poised to make a deep run in October.

The journey certainly hasn’t been easy as the season-ending injuries to catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado and the recent 25-game suspension of first baseman Chris Davis have provided easy excuses for the Orioles to wilt down the stretch. Not all has gone to plan as the $50 million free-agent addition of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has been an utter failure in the first season of a four-year commitment.

But Tuesday’s win provided the perfect microcosm of what’s made the Orioles continue to thrive in 2014.

You can expect the unexpected.

Making his first start in a month after being dumped from the starting rotation, Jimenez overcame a shaky beginning to pitch five solid innings to earn just his fifth win of the season. Ironically, it was the kind of important game in which the Orioles envisioned Jimenez pitching when they signed him in February.

A three-run home run in the first inning came off the bat of Steve Pearce, the journeyman who was designated for assignment in April before being re-signed a few days later when Davis went on the disabled list. The 31-year-old has gone on to hit a career-high 18 homers, which is more than he’d hit in his first seven major league seasons combined. More than any other player, Pearce might be the ultimate symbol of the 2014 Orioles when the final chapter is written sometime next month.

A solo shot came an inning later from third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who was claimed off waivers by the Orioles during spring training and then lost to the Kansas City Royals a couple days later. Duquette eventually reacquired the 25-year-old in time for him to provide a handful of big hits in his few weeks with the club.

T.J. McFarland pitched a scoreless sixth inning. He was the Rule 5 selection the Orioles stubbornly retained on the 25-man roster all last season.

Darren O’Day provided 1 1/3 innings of excellent relief as he has for the last three seasons. The sidearm pitcher was claimed off waivers from Texas before Duquette was even hired three years ago.

Left field Alejandro De Aza hit the three-run triple in the seventh to bust the game open after he was acquired for two nondescript minor-league pitchers at the waiver trade deadline late last month.

Dominant lefty Andrew Miller struck out the only two hitters he faced and has been exactly what the Orioles envisioned when they acquired the best relief pitcher on the market while the rest of baseball lauded Oakland and Detroit for acquiring Jon Lester and David Price, respectively. The Orioles now own a better record than the Athletics and the Tigers.

When Pearce fielded the final out for the club’s 91st win of the season, it was just the latest example of the sum being much greater than the parts appear on paper.

There hasn’t been a set formula apparent to the rest of the baseball world that explains the Orioles’ ascent over the last few years, but they play great defense, hit home runs, and have pitched as well as anyone since early June. Those strengths have allowed them to overcome the loss of All-Star position players and failed free-agent acquisitions.

For Duquette and Showalter, the question isn’t who is the best player as much as it’s who is the best fit. It hasn’t been about spending money as much as it’s been about making the smartest decision.

And it’s been perfectly imperfect as Baltimore wrapped up the division title with 11 games to spare.

Whether they have 11 wins in them next month remains to be seen, but the journey to this point has been both difficult and overwhelmingly rewarding.

And it paid off with a celebration at Camden Yards Tuesday night while the rest of the American League East was looking up at the Orioles for a change.

 

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With Saunders inked, would Orioles consider minor-league deal for Jim Johnson?

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With Saunders inked, would Orioles consider minor-league deal for Jim Johnson?

Posted on 01 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles added to their organizational pitching depth Friday by signing left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders to a minor-league deal, leading many to wonder whether former All-Star closer Jim Johnson could be the next former Baltimore pitcher to return to the organization.

After beginning the season in the Rangers’ starting rotation, Saunders was released twice in the month of July and went 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA in eight starts for Texas this season. After being released by the Rangers on July 4, Saunders signed a minor-league deal with the Royals and was let go earlier this week after posting a 6.75 ERA in four starts for Triple-A Omaha.

Of course, Saunders was acquired by the Orioles late in the 2012 season and went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings and was the winning pitcher in the inaugural American League Wild Card Game to send the Orioles to their first American League Division Series appearance since 1997. The 33-year-old went 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts for Seattle last season.

Realistically speaking, Saunders provides little more than some injury insurance as well as an option to pitch in long relief if he can work out the issues that have plagued him all season and prompted two other organizations to give up on him in the last month alone.

The more interesting question presented Friday came after the Oakland Athletics officially released Johnson, who pitched to a disastrous 7.14 ERA in 38 appearances and lost his closer job with his new — and now former — club at the beginning of the season. After Johnson collected a combined 101 saves for the Orioles in 2012 and 2013, executive vice president of baseball operations dealt him to Oakland for infielder Jemile Weeks and catcher David Freitas last winter.

Needless to say, the deal was an utter failure for Oakland while the Orioles haven’t really benefited with their return beyond saving the $10 million the 2012 All-Star selection was set to earn through arbitration in 2014. It’s clear that Johnson needed a change of scenery and a mental break at the very least, but would the Orioles consider bringing back the 31-year-old on a minor-league deal?

Manager Buck Showalter tried to dodge the question on Friday, but it’s no secret that Johnson was one of his favorites in Baltimore.

“We like Jimmy. He pitched real well for us here.” Showalter said. “He’s on his way to Sarasota. I know [pitching rehabilitation coordinator] Scotty McGregor is real close to him. If he becomes completely available, I’m sure a lot of people would have interest in him — including us.”

Showalter mentioning Johnson going to Sarasota was interesting considering it’s the club’s spring training home and the pitcher lives there, making it a compelling landing spot for him to clear his head and figure out his woes to get his career back on track.

Of course, the Orioles just acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller to sure up the back end of the bullpen and don’t have a pressing need, but Johnson’s track record wouldn’t make it a terrible idea to see if the organization can fix his problems — he averaged 5.1 walks per nine innings and posted a 2.06 WHIP in Oakland — and make him a middle relief option later this year or even next. Prior to this season, Johnson had pitched to an ERA under 3.00 in three consecutive seasons and was an above-average reliever in the AL for a number of years.

Just like the Saunders signing, a potential move to ink Johnson to a minor-league deal should be viewed with very little consequence and no serious expectations, but the familiar surroundings of the Orioles organization would seem to be a good fit if the reliever is to get his career back on track. Johnson was quite fond of his time in Baltimore and was quite emotional upon learning he had been traded last December.

Above all, it’s the kind of reclamation project that has Duquette and the Orioles written all over it, which would make his return not the least bit surprising.

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Orioles add “good piece” in Miller while Oakland, Detroit make colossal moves

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Orioles add “good piece” in Miller while Oakland, Detroit make colossal moves

Posted on 31 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles bolstered their bullpen at the trade deadline with the acquisition of relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.

The trade appears to have improved Baltimore’s chances of winning the American League East, but a look ahead to October and the blockbuster deals pulled off by the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers created a more sobering tone as the deadline passed on Thursday afternoon. Make no mistake, the Orioles are better with the acquisition of one of the best lefty relievers in baseball, but Oakland landing Boston ace Jon Lester and Detroit securing 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price certainly hurt Baltimore’s chances of winning the pennant should they advance to the postseason.

The Orioles may have improved, but the Athletic and Tigers took colossal leaps in their quest to advance to the World Series. But it’s a reality in which manager Buck Showalter and his club can’t dwell with only a 2 1/2 game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays entering Thursday’s series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m not sure we had the wherewithal to land a top starter,” said executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who indicated teams kept bringing up 23-year-old Kevin Gausman in trade talks. “We have some other really attractive players, but some of them are helping our current club, right?

“You just have to weigh what you can do to strengthen your ball club, and I thought adding Miller really strengthens our club, particularly when we have a lead. And it allows some of those other relievers to come into the game and pitch earlier. It shortens up the game a little bit when you have relievers who can get out both righties and lefties. This kid has been dominant against both.”

Right or wrong, the Orioles remained steadfast in not dealing any of their top young pitchers with Gausman currently in the major league rotation and 21-year-old Dylan Bundy working his way back from last year’s Tommy John surgery. The recent elbow injury to 2013 first-round pick Hunter Harvey certainly didn’t make the Orioles any more eager to deal one of their few top pieces.

And there’s no telling how absurd the asking price might have still been to try to acquire Lester or Price from an AL East rival — even if the Orioles were willing to deal one of their young pitchers.

Miller posted a 2.34 ERA in 50 appearances spanning 42 1/3 innings for the Red Sox this season. He has held right-handed bats to a .180 average and lefties to a .150 clip. The 29-year-old is averaging 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, which is also significant considering the Orioles rank 14th in the American League in strikeouts this season.

It remains to be seen who will be sent out to make room for Miller in the current bullpen as right-hander Brad Brach and left-hander T.J. McFarland would be the logical possibilities since they both have minor-league options.

“He’s just another good piece,” said Showalter, who added that Miller is expected to be in uniform and available to pitch in Friday’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners. “He goes with some other good pieces down there. He gives us more depth down there [to] keep passing the load around. I think he’s a little more than just a left-handed arm. You look at left-handed relievers, the ideal ones are the guys that you’ve got left-right-left and you can leave them in there for the [right-handed hitter].”

Miller is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, making the price of giving up Rodriguez a costly one as the Venezuelan lefty was viewed as the organization’s fourth-best pitching prospect entering the 2014 season. Slowed by a knee injury earlier this season, the 21-year-old Rodriguez was 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts for Double-A Bowie this season.

Duquette acknowledged a preference not to give up Rodriguez in the trade for Miller that was in the works over the last couple weeks before picking up steam in recent days.

“It wasn’t our first choice to trade him. The kid has talent and he has youth, but again, our team is in the race,” Duquette said. “We want to continue what we started, and we needed to add to our club to be competitive with the other clubs — not just in our division, but the other clubs in the American League in the playoff situation.”

Of course, that argument suffers when witnessing what else transpired around the league.

Miller’s career follows a similar narrative to that of current Orioles reliever Brian Matusz in that he’s a former first-round draft pick to have failed as a starter in the major leagues before settling into a bullpen role. However, he is an imposing option against hitters on either side of the plate while Matusz continues to struggle against right-handed hitters this season, a major factor that prompted the Orioles to make the move.

Duquette said the Orioles would still consider making some offensive upgrades to their lineup but made a point to praise the current combination of pitching and defense to go with the club’s power. Players must now pass through waivers in order to be traded, but a number of key moves have been made in that capacity around baseball over the last few years.

“We’ve got some hitters at Triple A that are swinging the bats pretty well,” Duquette said. “We picked up (Jimmy) Paredes, Dariel Alvarez is doing a good job at Triple A, and there will be some other opportunities for some bats through the waiver process. There won’t be much going on now because everybody needs waivers to get traded, so that won’t happen right away. But some time in the next couple of weeks there will be some opportunities for us to address those needs.”

The Orioles certainly took a step forward in their division on Thursday, but Oakland and Detroit may have lapped them in the race for the Fall Classic. And even if Duquette made the right call in keeping his young pitching, there’s no changing that possibility.

 

 

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Orioles pitching prospect Harvey done for season with elbow injury

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Orioles pitching prospect Harvey done for season with elbow injury

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles received bad news about one of their top pitching prospects Wednesday as 19-year-old Hunter Harvey will be shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation and a flexor mass strain.

The 2013 first-round pick went 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts covering 87 2/3 innings this season, earning an invitation to the Futures Game during All-Star weekend in Minnesota earlier this month. The right-hander last pitched on June 25 when he allowed four earned runs and eight hits over five innings but had allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his previous four starts.

“Hunter saw our doctors [Tuesday], and he has an issue with his elbow, so he won’t be pitching anymore the rest of the season,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Wednesday at Camden Yards. “I need to learn a little more about it. He’s had a good year, and he has distinguished himself as a top young pitcher. And he needs a rest period.”

Duquette added that the injury is not believed to require surgery at this time. The structure of Harvey’s ulnar collateral ligament is supposedly sound, but fellow top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was given the same initial diagnosis last year before ultimately needing Tommy John surgery when a period of rest did not produce the desired healing.

Taken with the 22nd overall pick of last year’s draft, Harvey saw his stock soaring this season and was named the No. 13 prospect in all of baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law earlier this month. The North Carolina native is the son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey.

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Duquette dismisses report of Orioles closing in on Lester trade

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Duquette dismisses report of Orioles closing in on Lester trade

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Addressing a flurry of trade rumors centering around the Orioles targeting Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester on Wednesday afternoon, Dan Duquette did his best to throw a blanket on the fire.

The executive vice president of baseball operations reiterated his long-held position of not wanting to deal the organization’s top pitching prospects and dismissed reports that the Orioles were closing in on a deal for the three-time All-Star hurler.

“Well, that would be news to me,” said Duquette, who acknowledged an obvious interest in adding a top-of-the-rotation pitcher if possible. “Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching are very valuable to the long-term sustainability of the organization, and I think that’s a real important component to have a good team year in and year out. I think if we were to err with our young pitchers, we would be conservative and we’d try to give them a long trial in the big leagues before trading them.”

Duquette said Tuesday he was focused on adding depth to the rotation rather than making a blockbuster move, making it unlikely the Orioles would pull the trigger on a deal for Lester that would involve Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, or Hunter Harvey. Of course, Wednesday’s news of Harvey being shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation and a flexor mass strain further diminished the likelihood of the Orioles moving a top prospect.

Lester was scratched for his scheduled start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday as several teams remain interested in his services. A free agent at the end of the season, the lefty is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts spanning 143 innings this year.

Multiple reports have stated the Orioles are interested in Chicago Cubs utility player Emilio Bonifacio, who has played center field as well as three infield spots this season. The switch-hitting 29-year-old is hitting .279 with two home runs, 18 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases and has posted a 1.024 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handed pitching this season.

Baltimore also remains interested in adding another late-inning reliever to its bullpen for the stretch run.

“We’re still talking to a number of teams,” Duquette said. “We have not consummated a deal yet, but we’re talking to a couple of teams. We hope we’ll be able to add some people to our organization.”

 

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: While Lester joins race, O’s head back to dumpster

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: While Lester joins race, O’s head back to dumpster

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Glenn Clark

Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to you by Koons Baltimore Ford. Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish may also be brought to you by Koons Baltimore Ford because every now and then my buddy Dennis Koulatsos is willing to hang out with the little guys.

(A reminder that I have bought as many cars from Koons Baltimore Ford in my life as Josh Hamilton has home runs this season.)

I had wanted to write this morning about the HIGH-LARIOUS letter Bud Selig sent the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals according to the Hollywood Reporter. It’s classic Bud. “You guys remember how I screwed this whole thing from the beginning? Well now you have to fix it on your own or you’re gonna get it!”

Sadly I’ll have to pass for now.

Remember Tuesday morning when I was so full of piss, vinegar and hope? I mean, I knew better than to REALLY think this was going to go the right way, but didn’t I have the right to hope?

And then Tuesday night while I was sitting at Oriole Park at Camden Yards…boom.

That’s the report from WEEI in Beantown, where Tuesday D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction guest Rob Bradford played the role of “bringer of bad news.” Lester was scratched from his start Wednesday night and is slated to be dealt to a contender before the non-waiver deadline Thursday.

It won’t be Baltimore.

Look, I was significantly less hopeful of the possibility after chatting with Bradford on Tuesday morning’s show. The Sox reporter told us that trading within the division wasn’t really much of a stumbling block but said the team was looking to add legitimate hitting prospects. While there’s reason to believe the likes of Christian Walker and Dariel Alvarez have the potential to be legitimate major league players in the future-they are not thought of nearly on the level of the top prospects in other organizations.

The Orioles may have done everything they could to put together a viable package in exchange for the All-Star left hander and someone else may have simply had more to offer. If that had been the case, there wouldn’t have been much for guys like me to complain about. Lester was the PERFECT rental player to consider doing something bold to acquire as the team looks to take advantage of their best chance to win a World Series since 1997.

But since this is Dan Duquette and the Baltimore Orioles, I guess we should have known it was more likely going to be this (according to MLB.com)…

If the O’s do add pitching depth, it figures to be bullpen help or a starter they can have ready in the Minor Leagues.

Ugh.

It’s not as if either of these ideas is terrible in a vacuum. I haven’t particularly thought the Birds NEEDED to add bullpen depth in order to win, but it can never hurt. Grabbing a pitcher with options could potentially end up being helpful should one of the five or six guys they currently have end up failing down the stretch due to injury or performance.

But those types of move most certainly aren’t bold. They’re not the type of moves that would likely make up the difference between “playoff contender” and “World Series winner”.

They’re dumpster dives. They’re exactly what the Orioles do in the Dan Duquette era.

It’s not as if Duquette has NEVER made a “bold” move for the Birds…he’s made exactly one. Unfortunately that one was the one that had an up and down outing for the Aberdeen Ironbirds Tuesday night. (That’s Ubaldo Jimenez…I’d like to think you knew that.)

Bud Norris was a solid move that didn’t cost the Orioles a heavy price. Similarly, the team has traded for the likes of Scott Feldman, Michael Morse, David Lough and Francisco Rodriguez without particularly significant risk. Perhaps the “boldest” trade Duquette has made in his Charm City tenure was to swap Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel. It wasn’t a “dumpster dive”, but it wasn’t exactly Ruben Sierra for Jose Canseco either.

Outside of Jimenez, Duquette’s free agent strategy has also failed to show anything “bold”. The Birds cashed in on a deal of minimal cost for Nelson Cruz, while finding pieces like Ryan Webb even more minimally. The Birds have always been more than willing to go the route of a Nate McLouth (to a reasonable level of success), Lew Ford, Johan Santana or Heath Bell in the Duquette era as well.

I believe Heath Bell’s permanent address is the dumpster in the alley outside your office at this point.

I hope I end up being wrong. I hope the team ends up winning the World Series with their current rotation that appears to have no true ace. Their best starter for the totality of the season (Chris Tillman) was roughed up by the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday night but the Birds managed to win anyway. I hope that after winning the World Series, the Birds end up competing to win three or four more titles in the next decade thanks to the likes of Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, who Duquette has made untouchable heading towards Thursday’s deadline.

I really hope we don’t regret the fact that a team that appeared to be an ace short of being a true World Series contender didn’t take the chance to boldly acquire Jon Lester.

In the meantime-when you throw your leftover Chinese food away today-see if you can’t find a starter for the second game of the ALDS.

-G

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Orioles pondering right fit with trade deadline approaching

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Orioles pondering right fit with trade deadline approaching

Posted on 29 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Thursday’s trade deadline quickly approaching, the Orioles weren’t offering a vibe that a significant deal was imminent as they returned home from a long West Coast trip to begin a three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.

Even with a Fox Sports report on Monday saying the Orioles had inquired about the availability of Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette reiterated a day later that he is not interested in giving away the top prizes of his minor league system, which include pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey as well as current Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman. Duquette told reporters that adding pitching depth remains a priority, which could come in the form of another starter or an extra arm in the bullpen.

The Orioles have also been linked to Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett, Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa, and San Diego’s Ian Kennedy in various media reports in recent weeks.

“It’s one thing to go out and acquire somebody, but there’s got to be a fit there,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You guys can figure out where the fit might be. I’m looking at trying to play through the end of October with the 25 people we have.”

The Orioles remain open to the possibility of upgrading the second base and catcher positions but continue to place a premium on strong defense accompanying any improved offensive production. They entered Tuesday ranked sixth in the American League in team ERA (3.78), but rank 14th in fielding independent pitching (4.21), a metric used to roughly determine what a pitcher’s ERA would look like with defensive play eliminated from the equation. This, in part, reflects how important strong defense has been to the Orioles’ success this season.

Jonathan Schoop is hitting just .216 and Ryan Flaherty .207, but both have provided above-average defense at second base. The catching combination of Caleb Joseph (.197) and Nick Hundley (.205) is hovering around the Mendoza line, but Showalter and pitchers alike have credited their work behind the plate as a major reason for the pitching success since early June.

A report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Tuesday indicated the Orioles are not interested in Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki.

“You never assume anything. I don’t want to know every [rumor],” Showalter said. “We’ve talked about some things that are out there, but [Duquette] doesn’t have to [tell me everything] and I don’t want him to. I want our players to know that every ounce that I’ve got is towards the 25 that are here and the 20 [or so] that are in Norfolk and Bowie. That’s my job.”

Duquette and the Orioles clearly won’t tip their hand if something significant is in the works, but it still appears they’re more likely to add a bullpen arm or a starting pitcher with minor-league options before compromising their future for a impact starting pitcher who may or may not be available with so few sellers at the deadline under the current playoff system that now includes two wild cards in each league.

Of course, with the Orioles entering Tuesday with the fourth-best record in the majors and a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL East, they don’t feel the urgency to pull the trigger on a deal simply for the sake of making one, either. And there’s always the distinct possibility of a move being made in August when a number of helpful players will inevitably pass through waivers and once again become available through a trade.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our people up there,” Showalter said. “I think we get so bogged down thinking it’s a strict ‘no more trades’ after this day. Take a look at the people acquired after the deadline [in the past]. It’s a moving target. Dan brings me up to speed on things that he wants my input from, and he knows that I go through the coaching staff and we kick it around.”

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Gausman’s rotation spot must be solidified after All-Star break

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Gausman’s rotation spot must be solidified after All-Star break

Posted on 07 July 2014 by Luke Jones

If the Orioles really wanted to have a sense of humor, they’d offer a Kevin Gausman yo-yo giveaway night at Camden Yards in the second half of the season.

Monday brought the expected news of the 23-year-old right-hander being optioned yet again to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for former York Revolution relief pitcher Julio DePaula, who provided manager Buck Showalter with an extra arm in the bullpen after Sunday’s 12-inning win in Boston. The 31-year-old DePaula figures to only be with the Orioles for one game with Bud Norris set to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday’s start against the Washington Nationals.

Yes, Gausman has options and the Orioles needed an extra arm in the bullpen, making him a logical choice to be sent to the minors to create an open spot on the 25-man roster. With next week’s All-Star break looming, the argument could be made that the 2012 first-round pick could only miss one start before returning in the second half of the season.

But is the constant yo-yoing of the young pitcher between Baltimore and the minors what’s best for him and the Orioles? Shuffling the deck with the likes of T.J. McFarland, Brad Brach, and Evan Meek is one thing — executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has manipulated his roster as much as anyone over the last three years — but continuing to mess with the rhythm of your top pitching prospect wouldn’t appear to be the best way to maximize your investment.

Showalter often quips that you can’t mess up the good ones no matter how much you try, but starting pitchers are also creatures of habit. Gausman has only gotten used to a routine of unpredictability and travel over the last month as he’s been optioned twice, was called up to serve as the 26th man for a doubleheader on June 27, and has pitched for the Orioles, Triple-A Norfolk, and short-season Single-A Aberdeen over that stretch.

The Orioles say there is another reason why they’ve handled the young pitcher in the manner they have this season, but even that excuse will no longer be valid after the All-Star break.

“I think every time he goes out [to pitch], it’s good for him,” Showalter said after Sunday’s 7-6 win over the Red Sox. “We’re managing his innings so — at some point — he’s good enough and we’re good enough to pitch the rest of the season. There’s a method to what we’re doing here. We’re trying to make sure a guy like him is available the whole year.”

In 2013, Gausman pitched 129 2/3 innings split between the Orioles and the minor leagues, putting him in line to throw somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 150 to 160 innings this season. He’s pitched 78 2/3 innings so far in 2014, leaving him on track to easily be able to handle a full workload as a starter in the second half.

But the excuses appear to be running out as even Hall of Fame pitcher and MASN analyst Jim Palmer recently took the organization to task over how Gausman has been handled despite pitching to a 2.45 ERA in his five starts since June 7. Showalter made a point during the club’s last homestand that he didn’t want to send Gausman to the hill on abbreviated rest, but the right-hander has twice been recalled to make starts on three days’ rest this season, albeit following what were abbreviated outings each time.

The Orioles gave Gausman infrequent work out of the bullpen for a large stretch of his rookie season instead of allowing him to work every fifth day on his secondary pitches at Norfolk.

Showalter may quip that you can’t prevent the best prospects from reaching their full potential, but the Orioles have put on a clinic in trying to do just that with Gausman over the last calendar year.

The young pitcher’s upside — and performance over the last month — has made his inclusion in the rotation a no-brainer despite the lingering headache of what to do to make room for him. Yes, the Orioles have the ability to move him on and off the roster as needed, but that doesn’t mean they should continue doing it if they want to see him thrive in the majors — and help them advance to the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Orioles can’t keep Gausman out of the rotation because of a $50 million investment in Ubaldo Jimenez or loyalty to Miguel Gonzalez or Wei-Yin Chen. They need to make it work in allowing their best arm to pitch in the major leagues, regardless of what that means for the rest of the rotation.

Gausman has taken the high road whenever asked about being bounced back and forth between the big club and the minor leagues, but he’s also a human being with emotions who has to be wondering what more he needs to do to stay in the majors. The right-hander could have the impact of a trade-deadline acquisition if the Orioles simply give him a chance to flourish on a regular schedule.

“That’s really not up to me,” Gausman told reporters after Sunday’s outing. “I just try to pitch well when I can and when I get the opportunity to, but I have options and they’re going to use them if they feel like they need it. If we need a bullpen guy, that’s what it’s going to be.”

Next week’s All-Star break provides a final excuse for the Orioles to send Gausman back to Norfolk for one last start or two, but it will be time to solidify his place in the rotation after that — assuming he continues to perform at a level deserving of one.

And it will no longer be good enough to simply say they needed his roster spot if the Orioles truly want Gausman to be a critical part of a second-half run to the postseason.

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Orioles still not tipping hand on looming Reimold decision

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Orioles still not tipping hand on looming Reimold decision

Posted on 28 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles must make a decision on the future of oft-injured outfielder Nolan Reimold by Monday but aren’t tipping their hand until the last moment.

Neither executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette nor manager Buck Showalter indicated what the Orioles plan to do as Reimold’s 20-day rehab assignment is coming to an end. The 30-year-old is out of minor-league options, so the Orioles must either place him on the 25-man roster or expose him to waivers and take the chance that another club will claim him.

Many critics wouldn’t view the latter as a major loss since Reimold hasn’t performed at a high level in the majors since the start of the 2012 season. He has undergone two spinal fusion surgeries since then, but the Orioles thought highly enough of Reimold to sign him to a one-year, $1.025 million contract last offseason when many expected they wouldn’t tender him a deal.

In 46 at-bats with the Baysox, Reimold is hitting .326 with two home runs, nine runs batted in, and 11 walks.

“We hope Nolan will be a factor to help our team,” Duquette said during a forum for season ticket holders on Satuday. “He’s currently down in Bowie completing his 20-day rehab. [We’ll assess] Nolan’s capability to help our ball club right now or see if he can do that later in the season. But he’s getting on base, he’s played some games in the field and as a DH, and he’s done well. He’s on his way back.”

Unlike last year, the Orioles are receiving plenty of production in left field and at the designated hitter spot with Nelson Cruz, Steve Pearce, and Delmon Young all having strong seasons. Showalter has struggled to find playing time for Young, so it wouldn’t appear to make sense to add another right-handed outfielder to the bench.

The only apparent way to make room for Reimold would be to designate light-hitting outfielder David Lough for assignment, but Showalter likes using him as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner. Lough also provides the Orioles a backup center fielder for Adam Jones, a position no other outfielder on the roster is equipped to handle.

Barring an injury over the next day or two, the Orioles’ only practical option for Reimold might be to designate him for assignment with the plan to outright him to Triple-A Norfolk if no other club decides to take a chance on him after two major neck surgeries. With so much sweat equity invested in his recovery, the Orioles would clearly prefer keeping him in the organization without compromising their major league roster in the process.

“I know we’ve had some discussions about it,” Showalter said. “[Vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson] has been down there a few times. He’s up to speed on him. He talks to Nolan a lot. Obviously, there’s a pending move there.”

In 936 career major league at-bats, Reimold has hit .252 with 41 home runs, 126 RBIs, and a .327 on-base percentage.

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