Tag Archive | "Dan Duquette"

Orioles spring training preview: 40 for 40

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Orioles spring training preview: 40 for 40

Posted on 10 February 2014 by Luke Jones

As Orioles pitchers and catchers prepare to hold their first workout in Sarasota on Friday, much of the attention will begin to shift from an abysmal offseason to the daily happenings of spring training.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and ownership have yet to deliver on stated goals of adding a veteran starting pitcher as well as significantly addressing a number of other needs, but the roster isn’t devoid of talent either as manager Buck Showalter attempts to guide the Orioles to their third consecutive winning season.

With 13 players out of options on the 40-man roster, Duquette and Showalter will face some difficult decisions while fans will justifiably continue to clamor for some impact additions between now and Opening Day.

Here’s a glance at the current 40-man roster — left-handed pitcher Troy Patton will not count during his 25-game suspension to begin the regular season — with a preview of non-roster spring training invitees coming later in the week:

PITCHERS (22)

LHP Mike Belfiore
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: two
Musing: The southpaw reliever had a few call-ups to Baltimore last season — appearing in one game — but his 1.441 WHIP at Triple-A Norfolk suggests he’ll start the season with the Tides once again.

LHP Tim Berry
Opening Day age: 23
Options remaining: three
Musing: Added to the 40-man roster after a strong 2013 campaign for Frederick, the 2009 50th-round pick can firmly put himself on the club’s radar if he can duplicate or better his 2013 ERA of 3.85 at Double-A Bowie.

RHP Brad Brach
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: one
Musing: Acquired from San Diego in exchange for Devin Jones, Brach has a career 3.70 ERA and has averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in three major league seasons but might be squeezed out of the Baltimore bullpen to start the season since he has an option year remaining.

LHP Zach Britton
Opening Day age: 26
Options remaining: none
Musing: We’ll see if new pitching coach Dave Wallace can work any magic with Britton, who is coming off a poor 2013 season and no longer has age or options on his side in finally realizing his once-impressive potential.

RHP Dylan Bundy
Opening Day age: 21
Options remaining: two
Musing: His Tommy John surgery was one of the more disappointing developments of the 2013 season, but his rehabilitation progress suggests a late-season return to live-game action is realistic and he still has his entire career in front of him at such a young age.

LHP Wei-Yin Chen
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: three
Musing: Entering the final season of a three-year, $11.09 million contract that includes a team option for 2015, the Taiwanese southpaw can show the Orioles he’s capable of reaching another level after pitching to a solid 4.04 ERA in his first two seasons despite missing two months with an oblique injury in 2013.

LHP Kelvin De La Cruz
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: none
Musing: De La Cruz has never pitched in the majors and has control issues (4.7 walks per nine innings), but his strikeout numbers (11.3 per nine innings at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2013) are impressive and he’s had success against lefties, which made him a viable project in Duquette’s mind.

RHP Edgmer Escalona
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: none
Musing: The Rockies product posted ERAs of 6.04 and 5.67 in 2012 and 2013 respectively — making the Orioles’ interest in him puzzling — and he figures to face an uphill battle to carve out a spot in the Orioles bullpen but would likely clear waivers to be outrighted to Norfolk.

RHP Kevin Gausman
Opening Day age: 23
Options remaining: two
Musing: Vying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation after spending time in the bullpen during his rookie season, the 2012 first-round pick gained 12 pounds in the winter and hopes his developing slider has improved enough to land him a stable job with the major league club.

RHP Miguel Gonzalez
Opening Day age: 29
Options remaining: two
Musing: His stamina often comes into question with only a 170-pound frame, but Gonzalez has gone 20-12 with a 3.58 in 43 starts in his first two seasons and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the stability he’s added to the starting rotation after being one of the best stories of the surprising 2012 playoff season.

RHP Liam Hendriks
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: one
Musing: The Australian was selected off waivers in December and figures to be a good bet for Norfolk’s starting rotation in 2014 after posting a 6.06 ERA and making 28 starts for the Minnesota Twins over the last three seasons.

RHP Tommy Hunter
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: none
Musing: The favorite to be the new closer, Hunter has the makeup for the ninth, but a tendency to give up the long ball (11 in 86 1/3 innings in 2013) and shaky numbers against left-handed hitters (.294 against him last year) won’t make Showalter comfortable until Hunter proves himself in his new role.

RHP Steve Johnson
Opening Day age: 26
Options remaining: one
Musing: An injury-plagued 2013 was a lost season for the local product, but Johnson remains a candidate for the fifth starter job and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 54 major league innings despite underwhelming velocity that often leaves critics doubting him.

LHP Chris Jones
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: three
Musing: Acquired from Atlanta in the Luis Ayala trade early last season, Jones went 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 31 appearances with Norfolk and is a name to keep an eye on if the Orioles need left-handed bullpen help later in the season.

LHP Brian Matusz
Opening Day age: 27
Options remaining: none
Musing: The 2008 first-round pick still has visions of starting in the big leagues, but it appears that ship has sailed as he’s found a niche as a situational reliever and will be even more valuable with Patton suspended for the first 25 games of the season.

LHP T.J. McFarland
Opening Day age: 24
Options remaining: three
Musing: After being stashed in the bullpen as a Rule 5 pick last year, McFarland figures to be a member of Norfolk’s rotation where he can continue to develop and hopefully justify the Orioles’ choice to hinder their roster flexibility last season.

RHP Bud Norris
Opening Day age: 29
Options remaining: three
Musing: His control issues and 4.80 ERA were a disappointment upon being acquired from Houston last July, but Norris is an excellent bet to win a starting rotation spot and has a career 4.36 ERA in five major league seasons.

RHP Darren O’Day
Opening Day age: 31
Options remaining: player permission only
Musing: The bullpen struggled down the stretch last year with O’Day limited to just two appearances from Aug. 29 through Sept. 18 while dealing with numbness in two fingers, so his return to full strength is critical for a group already needing to fill the void of departed closer Jim Johnson.

LHP Troy Patton
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: none
Musing: His suspension for Adderall use would likely have him on shaky footing had it not been for the solid 3.70 ERA he posted last season, but Patton must deal with the reality of how he’ll prepare for the season with Showalter already saying he won’t pitch in many spring games.

RHP Josh Stinson
Opening Day age: 26
Options remaining: none
Musing: Liked by Showalter, Stinson will compete to win a long-relief spot in the bullpen and pitched very well in that capacity late last season, posting a 0.79 ERA in 11 1/3 innings of relief after a less-than-impressive spot start made early in 2013.

RHP Chris Tillman
Opening Day age: 25
Options remaining: none
Musing: The 2013 All-Star righty became the ace of the staff last season and was very consistent after a rocky April, but his next goal will be to pitch deeper into games all season like he did late in the year when he completed seven or more innings in six of his final eight starts.

RHP Ryan Webb
Opening Day age: 28
Options remaining: one
Musing: Webb being the Orioles’ best free-agent signing to this point speaks volumes about a miserable winter, but he’s the dark-horse candidate to close out games — if Hunter falters — due to his impressive splits against right-handed and lefty hitters (both hit .244 against him in 2013).

Continue to next page for position players >>>>>

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You can’t possibly be surprised the Orioles signed Delmon Young

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You can’t possibly be surprised the Orioles signed Delmon Young

Posted on 14 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

If ever a player was a natural signing for the Orioles, it’s Delmon Young.

Honestly, once I looked over his career yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, “what took them so long?”

Young was a former #1 draft pick of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays who was going to be the next great thing.  He could do it all — back then.  Baseball people like to identify players with the “tools” they possess…hitting, hitting for power, fielding, running, etc. They’re then known as 3-tool, 4-tool, 5-tool, etc.  With Young, they once thought they had a 7-tool player.

It didn’t work out that way, of course, which is why he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles yesterday.

A player who once commanded a salary of nearly $7 million a year, Young is the perfect off-season catch for the Birds based mainly on the salary he’ll require in ’14 when he makes the team.  Last year, he made $750,000 in a split season with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.  That means he should come in at under $1 million for the Birds.

Young also some brings some extra baggage with him when he arrives in Sarasota next month.  Back in 2006, Young was suspended from minor league baseball for 50 games after throwing a bat at an umpire during an on-field incident.  Two seasons ago while playing with the Tigers, Young was involved in a hate-crime after a conflict with patrons of a New York bar/restaurant.  He was accused of shouting anti-Semitic slurs to a group of people while he was intoxicated, later pleaded guilty, and performed 10 hours of community service.

That, of course, is in the past.

And the world is literally his oyster here in Baltimore, where Dan Duquette and the Orioles have been pursuing a right handed bat all off-season but couldn’t convince one of the quality free agents to take $800,000 for the season.

If Delmon Young stays healthy and keeps his nose clean — and just makes occasional contact in spring training – it’s likely he’ll show up on March 31 and be part of the opening day twenty five who make the trip down the orange carpet from centerfield to second base in pre-game ceremonies.

It’s not the kind of signing any of us wanted, but it’s most certainly the kind of signing we all knew we’d see.  Duquette tried a similar tact with Travis Ishikawa last winter and he turned into what we all expected — a dud.  We jokingly refer to it around here as “dumpster diving”, the on-going search for a needle in a haystack.

Delmon Young is certainly in the haystack.  A once decent player with a solid pedigree, down on his luck after a handful of unproductive years, willing to play for baseball’s version of Ramen Noodles — that’s the sort of reclamation project Dan Duquette believes in.

And that’s what we get these days in Baltimore.

That said — he IS right handed.  It’s a start, at least.

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Orioles bring back 2B Casilla on minor league deal

Posted on 11 January 2014 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Orioles agreed to a minor league deal with their own free agent 2B Alexi Casilla Friday, giving the veteran infielder an invite to Major League Spring Training.

Casilla played 62 games with the Birds last season, batting .214/.268/.295. He added a home run and 10 RBI and stole nine bases in 11 attempts.

Casilla is expected to compete with Ryan Flaherty, Jemile Weeks (acquired from the Oakland Athletics in the Jim Johnson trade this offseason) and Jonathan Schoop for both the starting second base job and any potential playing time beyond that.

O’s GM Dan Duquette told MASNSports.com “Alexi is a skilled player. He’s a good defender. He’s very good at second base and he’s good at short. He’s a switch-hitter and he’s a talented basestealer. And he brings a lot of energy to the team. And he understands his role.”

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How are the Ravens and Orioles different?  You’ll see today at 10:00 am

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How are the Ravens and Orioles different? You’ll see today at 10:00 am

Posted on 08 January 2014 by Drew Forrester

Of all the days that separate the two professional sports teams in Baltimore, today is the one that stands out the most.

No games get played.

No one wins.  No one loses.

No players signed.  No money spent.

Today is the day that tells you everything you need to know about the Ravens — and at the same time, reminds you of what you already knew about the Orioles.

Some might also consider that today shows why one of the teams is a perennial winner and the other isn’t.

This morning at 10:00 am, the football team will hold its annual “State of the Ravens” press conference at their facility in Owings Mills.  They don’t do this occasionally.  They don’t do it only after a successful season.  Since Steve Bisciotti assumed full control of the team, they’ve hosted this event every year a week or two after the season concludes.

It’s called, in a word, “accountability”.

The Ravens ooze it.

The Orioles need a transfusion of it.

The only person who faces the media regularly for the Orioles is Buck Showalter, and that’s typically only in pre-game or post-game form.  Buck hasn’t had any sort of pre-season en-masse sitdown with the Baltimore media since he took the job and, likewise, hasn’t had a post-season presser for the media in town to pepper him with questions about the season.  That said, I bet you anything you want that Showalter would gladly sit down with the media if presented the option of doing so without the natural interference provided by the stuffed suits at OPACY.

Dan Duquette hasn’t had a press conference – other than when he was hired – in…well…ummm…forever.

Hilarious, right?

Repeat this to yourself at least once to completely absorb the amazing lack of responsibility on behalf of Orioles management: Dan Duquette is entering his third season with the Orioles and he’s never, once, faced the Baltimore press corps for a “bring it on” press conference where we’re all allowed to ask questions about the way the baseball franchise is run.

Go ahead, read that again.  Unreal.  Right?

This, of course, is in direct contrast to the Ravens, who will welcome any and all media members into their house today and allow questions to be thrown at Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh.

None of the questions will be dodged, unless some goof in the room says something like, “Yeah, this is for Ozzie.  Are you guys interested in trading for Justin Blackmon of the Jaguars?  He’s really good you know.”  Ozzie, of course, can’t answer any question about a player currently under contract with another team.  But he’ll answer any other REAL questions thrown his way today.

There’s no list of “off-limits-topics” distributed beforehand.  And, unlike the Orioles, who specialize in not allowing their critics to question them, the Ravens don’t “hand-pick” who is allowed in the room and who asks questions and who doesn’t.

The Orioles are so afraid of their critics they take away their press credentials and display a picture of the suspect at the main entrance behind home plate the same way the FBI posts pictures of their Most Wanted List in post offices.

The Ravens say, “Come on in, everyone, and ask whatever you want.”

The Orioles say, “You — you, right there.  You can come in.  You, though, you can’t come in.”

Accountability.  It’s what fuels today’s “State of the Ravens” gathering.

As long time Ravens P.R. Vice President Kevin Byrne said to me once, “We like this sort of review.  We appreciate the questions and the challenges.  We constantly evaluate ourselves.  We’re not worried about having people ask us why we do what we do.”

After the press conference, all four of the men will routinely hang around for some “off-the-record” discussions in the event you wanted to press an issue that was touched upon during the “open” portion of the event.

Yes, it’s true.  Steve Bisciotti simply stands in the corner and you ask him whatever you want.  One year, I asked him, simply, “How much money did the team make this past season?”  And, he stood right there and answered it.

Can you imagine asking Peter Angelos that question?

Wait — can you imagine Peter making himself AVAILABLE, first of all?  Then, what if that question got posed to him?  You can only imagine the result.

(Please see next page)

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Let’s hope David Lough knows how to play “Crocodile Rock”

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Let’s hope David Lough knows how to play “Crocodile Rock”

Posted on 19 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Give Dan Duquette credit.

Prior to last week’s Winter Meetings in Florida, Duquette pledged he was on the look-out for several things, one of those being a left-handed bat.

He made good on that promise yesterday.

It wasn’t quite the Shin-Soo Choo holiday gift we were all hoping for; instead it was a guy who has 400 career at bats in the major leagues.

The acquisition of David Lough on Wednesday wasn’t a “horrible move”.  For starters, the departure of Danny Valencia isn’t going to cost the Orioles a half dozen wins or anything, but they will need to replace his bat against left handed pitching.  Valencia was virtually one dimensional.  He was bat only, although his glove could fill-in for a day or two if one of the infielders had to take a day or two off.

Lough is what the experts call a “plus defender”, which is usually a way of saying a guy is really, really good defensively — and that makes up for the fact he’s not all that good at the plate.

Here’s what David Lough is — and here’s why the move is a typical Orioles maneuver.

He’s basically a cheaper version of Nate McLouth.

McLouth might be a tad more effective with the lumber in his hands.  Lough has a better arm in the outfield and is a little more versatile positionally.  They both have decent speed.  McLouth probably hits a couple of more home runs per-season than Lough, and his plate discipline is better.

McLouth, though, makes $5 million per-year.

Lough makes $500,000.

Checkmate.

It’s basically a lateral move that saves the Orioles $4.5 million.

Now, please understand this:  If I thought the Orioles were taking that $4.5 million and doing “something” with it, I’d probably be much more excited about the move.

If they were working on a deal for, let’s say, David Price from Tampa Bay, and they were going to use that $4.5 million in part to pay him the $16-18 million he’s going to command in 2014, I’d be doing cartwheels.

David Price is a game changer.

They’re not getting David Price, of course.  The Orioles wouldn’t pay a pitcher $18 million if Walter Johnson came back from the dead and said, “I have three great years left, give me $54 million and let’s go beat the Yankees and Red Sox.”

If I thought the Orioles were taking that $4.5 million and putting it in a hedge fund somewhere along with all that MASN money they’ve been hoarding in an attempt to make a boatload of cash to hand over to Chris Davis sometime over the next 12 months, I’d say, “OK, you gotta give a little to get a lot…I understand that way of thinking.”

But, that’s not what they’re doing.  If Chris Davis puts up something in the neighborhood of 50 HR, 120 RBI again, he’ll be on the verge of becoming one of those $150 million/7 year baseball players and that immediately takes him OUT of Baltimore and in either Boston, New York, Detroit or Seattle.

If they were spending some of that $4.5 million they were saving on the likes of a “real” left-handed hitter like Shin-Soo Choo and making Lough their 4th outfielder – a la Chris Dickerson, say – I’d be very comfortable with that kind of move.

Instead, here’s what happens to that $4.5 million they saved on McLouth:  They’ll take that money they saved by flipping McLouth for Lough – in essence – and simply say, “That’s how you build a good team in a limited market.”

I hope David Lough works out.

As it stands now, it would appear the Orioles have four left-fielder types, none of which are even close to being “a sure thing”.  Nolan Reimold=suspect. Francisco Peguero=suspect.  Steve Pearce=suspect.  Lough=suspect.

They need Lough to come through, since I think we all know the chances of any of the other three breaking through with some sort of magical, career year are relatively slim.

Then again, this is what Duquette does best.  He plucks piano movers away from teams, hands them the notes to Elton John’s Greatest Hits, and effectively says, “I know you’ve only moved pianos your whole life.  But I was hoping you might be able to play Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.”

Duquette tries to make piano movers into piano players.

The great teams simply hire piano players to do that.

 

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

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

Posted on 18 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, we’ll check off on Balfour.

Next?

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

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

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

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

Oh, and Nolan Reimold is back.

There’s no left-handed bat yet.

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

Are you ready for the return of Luke Scott?

You better be.

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

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

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

Yes, things COULD change.

But, they won’t.

Some things never change with the Orioles.

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

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

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Orioles Need to Practice What They Preach

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Orioles Need to Practice What They Preach

Posted on 13 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson

We have heard it all offseason; we have heard it for the past decade. After Orioles owner Peter Angelos was quoted saying Baltimore is a “limited market.” GM Dan Duquette has reiterated those sentiments, discussing the minute “resources” and trying to stay “competitive” against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.  

 

We all know the real story there; the owner refuses to open his wallet, knowing he is going to take $3.50 from every household in the Baltimore area for his MASN network. The reports circle every offseason how much Angelos grosses from his TV deal, but we all know that money will never be re-allocated to the roster, while he is in charge.

 

In the end, he is the owner and that is his prerogative; he can basically run his “business” however he so chooses (even if that means spitting in the face of those who fatten his pockets; but that’s a different story, which is already well reported by the WNST staff). If Angelos is going to stick to that “business plan” (if you want to call it that), then the team must operate as such.

 

Every offseason for the past ten or so years, we hear about those players that the Orioles are “interested” in acquiring.  Whether it is Mark Teixeira or Zack Greinke or Nelson Cruz, everyone knows the real story; the team will not pony up enough to garner their services, but cry that those players would not sign in Baltimore. So as a fan base, this is a plea for the the organization to stop with this nonsense.

 

It is time for the Orioles front office to embrace the “limited market” mantra they have been spewing for years. Stop acting as if the team will be actual players in the offseason; start acting like the team that will build from within.

 

Andy McPhail started that idea years ago; after moving Erik Bedard for Adam Jones (a move that panned out pretty damn well).  But those are the smart (and tough) decisions the organization has evaded, since their resurgence in 2012.  Take emotion out of your moves; basically make decisions with your head and not your heart.

 

The team traded away Closer Jim Johnson, one year too late and could not capitalize on his value at the time.  A contending team like the Dodgers or Tigers or Cardinals (I know I’ve said this before) would have given up an everyday player or at least some top level prospects in return if they would have pulled the trigger last offseason. Instead, the Orioles received a struggling 25 year, who was demoted to Triple A in 2013.

 

The same goes for fan favorite Matt Wieters; he’s been a gold-glover and an All-Star, but is he really worth the $100 that his agent (noted Orioles pain in the ass, Scott Boras) will ask for. The question is now what can you get in return for an overworked catcher, who is slow and cannot hit above .250?  If they would have considered moving Wieters before last season, they would have returned several top prospects and MLB players, while his value was at an all-time high.  Now, no one can even be  sure Wieters can get back even one everyday player or starting pitcher.

 

The point is that if you want to pretend that Baltimore is such a “limited” market than put your business plan in place as such.  Do not keep stringing along the hopes of fans holding out that the team will actually sign a Shin Shoo-Choo; start following the same model of successful “limited” market teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Before last season, they traded away a pretty good top-of-the-rotation starter in James Shields. In return they only received…the top prospect in baseball in OF Wil Myers and the Royals best pitching prospect, Jake Odorizzi.  

 

David PriceNow the team is in the same bind with former Cy Young Award Winner, David Price.  Since their actual resources are limited, they understand they cannot retain him under their budget.  In turn, the Rays, a perennial winning franchise in baseball, is looking to deal one of the top five best pitchers in the entire MLB.

 

And why? Because they understand value and have a business plan in place for the next several years.  They are stocked with young talent on throughout their farm system and continually replace players, like Price or Shields, with more top prospects.  

 

The Orioles brass seem to have little grasp of this concept, especially after standing still for the past two offseasons.  The tough moves are always the hardest, but will always help in the long scheme of things.  If the front office has no intentions of keeping around some of the team’s “star” players in the not too distant future, (i.e. Chris Davis) then why not make the tough decision now.  

 

Chris Davis ShirtIf the slugger is not in your future plans or budget, then why not recoup as much as possible for players the Orioles will have control over for the next seven-eight years.  Teams would be lining up with their best offers to acquire the services of a power-hitting first baseman with two years left of team control.

 

But then again this is the Orioles we are talking about. They will bank you parking your butt in the seats at Camden Yards for the next two seasons, to watch “Crush” hit bombs towards the warehouse.  All the while, you handing them money for tickets and hot dogs and beers and merchandise.

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Orioles lose out on Colon because they wouldn’t spend $20 million they already have

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Orioles lose out on Colon because they wouldn’t spend $20 million they already have

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Remember the ten million bucks the Orioles saved on Jim Johnson?

“We’re going to re-allocate those resources” was the quote from head honcho Dan Duquette when asked why the Birds would dump the American League’s most successful closer over the last two seasons for the equivalent of some weekday passes to the Baltimore Aquarium and a $500 gift card to Petit Louis.

OK, well follow along with me for a minute or two and let’s once again get a clear picture of just how the Orioles go about their business when it comes to spending (the fan’s) money and improving their roster.

So, they saved ten million by giving JJ the boot.  That’s math point #1.

Duquette openly admitted the club was heading to the winter meetings in search of more pitching.  Starting pitching.  Better pitching.

Depending on whether or not you believe the talking heads from Baltimore who are employees-in-law of the Orioles through MASN Sports, the Birds were more than just tire kickers on Bartolo Colon.

They evidently wanted him.  But, only for one year.

No pun intended, but the skinny on Colon is simple.  He’ll be 41 next season.  He has a recent history of PED use, a 50-game suspension, and, well…let’s just say, he probably hasn’t done a sit up this century.

He also gets hitters out.  With great regularity.

So, the Orioles – again, you have to decide if you believe the folks down in Florida covering the meetings – showed interest in Colon and essentially said, “If you’re willing to take a one-year deal, we can talk about the money.”

Colon and his agent were able to pry two years out of the Mets.  Two years, $20 million.  Colon will spend ’14 and ’15 in New York.

Now that we know the general parameters of the contract, it’s fair to say Colon was in the neighborhood of a $10 million a year pitcher.  He MIGHT have signed for $14 million for one year (not saying I would have done that, just saying that’s the reality) but the terms of the deal he signed in New York indicate he considers himself a $10 million-ish a year pitcher.

A quality starting pitcher in MLB — I mean, a real quality starter like Colon — is worth WELL above $10 million a year.  But, at 41, and with his testosterone levels always a concern, it appears $10 million is what Colon is worth these days.

The Orioles would have given him $10 million but NOT $20 million?

I’m not sure Colon would have taken a 2-year, $20 million offer from the Orioles, but for all we know, his directive to his agent might have been, “Take the first $20 million, 2-year deal you get. ”

Had that come from the Orioles on Tuesday instead of the Mets on Wednesday, he might very well be in Baltimore.

It appears the Orioles were interested when the asking price was $10 million, but no longer interested at $20 million.

Yet, they saved $10 million by giving Johnson the boot and had $10 million removed from the books when the Brian Roberts contract expired.

I went to Glen Burnie High School, but I think that’s $20 million.

So, if I’m reading it right, the Orioles passed on Bartolo Colon for ten million dollars.

Here’s what the apologists will say:  ”I wouldn’t give him a second year.  He’ll be 42 next season.”

Correct, he will be 42.

So, at age 41 you’ll take a chance on him, but at age 42, you won’t?

Cop. Out.

If you don’t think a 41 year old pitcher shouldn’t get $20 million over two years, fair enough.

But, when you wanted to give a 41 year old pitcher $10 million and you really think he can help you, what’s another $10 million?

After all, that’s your MAXIMUM exposure, right?  He might steal $10 million from you in 2015 if he falls apart, but that’s all you lose.  And, what if you give him $20 million for two years and his stat line looks like this:

2014 — 33 starts, 194.2 IP, 18-10, 3.29 ERA, 1.200 WHIP

2015 — 27 starts, 163.2 IP, 11-9, 4.17 ERA, 1.314 WHP

In today’s market, that’s not worth $20 million?

Of course it is.

The Orioles passed on Bartolo Colon because they MIGHT have been burned for $10 million in 2015.

What about the Markakis contract?  How exposed have the Orioles become on the back end of that thing?

What if — and I don’t think it’s happening — they were to sign Nelson Cruz for $50 million for four years?  Your exposure there would be MUCH greater than the $10 million you MIGHT lose on Colon.

So, for roughly ten million dollars (give or take $2-3 million), the Orioles removed themselves from the Bartolo Colon chase.

Ten million they have, by the way, after removing $20 million from the books.

Oh, and they’re getting $25 million in new TV money to play with in 2014.

They needed a quality starting pitcher.

And they passed on him because of ten million bucks.

That’s called:  cheap.

 

 

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The Sun gets the treatment I said they’d get from The Orioles

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The Sun gets the treatment I said they’d get from The Orioles

Posted on 06 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

If my Thursday edition of Drew’s Morning Dish here at WNST.net was a post-touchdown-celebration, this is what you’d be hearing from the referee.

“There are two penalties on the play, both occurring after the touchdown.  There’s a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration AND a 15-yard penalty for taunting.”

Did I call that one, or what?

As you can read RIGHT HERE, I opined on Thursday that the Orioles would reach out to Peter Schmuck of The Sun by nightfall to chastise him for his Wednesday column in which he wrote, essentially, that the Jim Johnson trade on Monday night “had the fingerprints of ownership all over it.”

Reach out they did.  They had the owner AND the general manager get a hold of Schmuck to “straighten him out”.  In fact, they straightened him out TWICE on Thursday.  His Thursday piece at The Sun was edited twice yesterday (and the headline changed, too) when Peter Angelos and Dan Duquette both contacted him to make sure he got their story right.

I’m a Peter Schmuck fan, by the way.  I think he’s very well sourced in town.  Actually, I know he’s very well sourced.  And, I think Peter knows sports and knows the way things work in this city when it comes to matters of the Orioles.

I also know – with all due respect to Brett Hollander who is doing a fine job as the host at WBAL – that Schmuck would be hosting a lot of WBAL’s nightly local sports coverage if the Orioles approved it a few years ago when the opening first existed.

Yesterday, though, was so “Orioles-ish” it’s remarkable.

I’ve certainly experienced it ten-fold over the years.  Greg Bader once told me in the Camden Yards press box “only one person listens to you”, but whenever they wanted my access restricted (twice, now, in the last six years) they simply took my media credential away and said, “You can’t come in and cover the team…”

Schmuck got different treatment yesterday.  Once he posted his piece on the The Sun website, the Orioles THEN reacted to it.

They’re as easy to read as a copy of Playboy in the men’s bathroom at your local athletic club.

You try to reach out to the Orioles to get some sort of comment from them on any matter and they don’t return your calls or your emails because…well, because they just don’t feel like wasting their time with you.

Until you write or say something they don’t like.

Then, suddenly, their phone or email works.

It’s reprehensible, really, that a “professional” organization operates in such a fashion, but the Orioles have showed over the years an amazing ability to do things completely on the other side of Planet Professional.

This, by the way, is just beginning.

What I mean by “this” is an uprising of sorts from a fan base that is starting to put pressure on the baseball team to step up to the next level and operate their franchise at a level commensurate with the revenue they’re generating from the community.

It’s not that different than what’s going on in the country these days with regard to President and the government in general.  Folks have grown tired of this charade that’s been going for five years and are starting to demand real answers and real accountability.

We, here, at WNST have been demanding answers and accountability from the baseball franchise for about seven years now.

Throughout that time, we were the subject of scorn from “real” baseball fans in town — those at Orioles Hangout, season ticket holders and die-hards alike — who criticized us for our supposed “agenda”.

Now, the worm has turned.

Orioles Hangout looks like it’s been set on fire with a huge number of their sheep having discovered what WNST knew and communicated all along.  There’s outrage over there as they now – in 2014, almost – are starting to hold the owner’s feet to the fire for the on-field product.

Peter Schmuck held the Orioles accountable this week and look what it got him.

Phone calls, revisions and, in general, an orange finger wagged in his face that said, “Don’t you be writing those things…”

I love it, personally.

If the Orioles were more honest from jump street – with the media, the fans and themselves – this sort of stuff wouldn’t happen.

But, they’re not.

And, so it now begins.

The Orioles vs. everyone else.

Only this time, there’s a lot more of “everyone else” than there has been in the past.

Weird how that works, huh?

 

 

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There’s a new three-word theme for Orioles 2014

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There’s a new three-word theme for Orioles 2014

Posted on 05 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Seven years ago, the three-word theme for all things Orioles was “Free The Birds”.

On September 21, 2006, nearly 2,000 die-hards of the team strolled upstairs in Camden Yards and watched the first few innings of a meaningless Orioles-Tigers game from the upper deck to show the baseball team there are still people in town willing to put their money where the mouth (and feet) is, as the saying goes.

Later on that afternoon, the upper deck was empty when everyone walked out to show their protest for how things were going with our beloved Birds.

There will always be varying opinions on whether or not that one-day rally made any impact on Peter Angelos and his disciples at Camden Yards, but there will never be a doubt about the fact that it got pulled off in All-Star fashion and got folks both in Baltimore and across the country interested in a bubbling fan rebellion.

We’re all “big boy enough” to also acknowledge that the Orioles got their feelings hurt that day and essentially pulled the plug on any future professional treatment of most things WNST Radio.  Funny, though, WNST has survived that bush-league treatment from the Orioles and the Orioles have survived “Free The Birds”.

Well – we’re now coming up on 2014 and it’s time for a new three-word phrase to be the bumper sticker for those of you in Baltimore who still care about the team, buy the merchandise and go to the games.

Three new words — Open. The. Books.

It’s time for the Orioles to man-up and open their operating books and give the public a real glimpse into their day-to-day operational costs, revenue, expenses and financial obligations.

I am NOT saying to literally have a press conference and distribute a 9-page booklet with every single line item on the revenue and expense side exposed and explained.  I wouldn’t expect that.

What I am saying, though, is the club should provide a “general overview” of their revenue and expenses to give everyone in town an idea of their business approach and why, for example, the (insert team here) will be able to give Shin-Soo Choo $90 million for six years but the Orioles can’t afford to do that.

Tell everyone — the people in town who keep your business afloat — how much you’re spending on scouting.  Is it $8 million?  $15 million?  $22 million?  Tell everyone what your travel costs are.  $3.2 million?  $6.1 million?  Give us an idea of what you’re spending in the minor league system.  $11.5 million?  $14.2 million?

Give us a general update of the revenue:  Tickets, sponsorship sales, concessions.  We already know the TV money.  Those numbers ARE public, which I’m quite certain drives the Orioles completely bonkers.  They’ll be taking in somewhere around $85 million in 2014 just from television revenue alone when you combine their national “take” ($55 million) and local haul ($30 million).

And, for those of you who are going to say “no team in baseball would open their books” you better READ THIS RIGHT HERE  from the owner of the Colorado Rockies.

Why is “Open The Books” important?

That’s easy.

No one believes the Orioles when they say, “We don’t have the RESOURCES (that’s the word Dan Duquette uses these days when referring to money) to compete with these BIG MARKET franchises.”

I know I certainly don’t believe it.

Unless you’re from Old Mill High School or you’re naive or you’re a dummy or you’re an apologist, you don’t believe it either.

Some baseball fans in Denver didn’t think the Rockies were doing all they could do to win based on their financial formula, so their owner said, “Well, we’ll show you how our business works.  If you don’t believe us, we’ll prove it to you.”

I’ll remind everyone that about twelve or so years ago, Peter Schmuck of The Sun floated this idea about “opening the books” and the Orioles brass went completely ballistic.  They cold shouldered Schmuck, refused to do interviews with the Sun, tongue-kissed the Washington Post and, in general, did what they always do when things don’t go their way — treated him unprofessionally.

Speaking of Schmuck, the piece he wrote yesterday at The Sun will absolutely result in a phone call (already has, likely) from Greg Bader of the Orioles who will go to great lengths to point out where Schmuck was wrong in his opinion that the Orioles look like they don’t know what they’re doing.

If you think that’s just Drew being paranoid or picking on the Orioles, get a glass of wine with Schmuck one night and ask him how many times the Orioles PR folks have accosted him over the years about something he wrote in the newspaper.  I know the truth.

I implored the Orioles to put BALTIMORE on their road uniforms for the better part of two seasons (they angrily called it a “crusade” in-house) and they took my daily press credential from me in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

That’s what they do.

And yes, there’s a risk that being the self-called campaign crusade-manager for the new “Open The Books” request might get me mistreated even more than I already have been…but they stole my press credential in September and I didn’t even do anything wrong, so I’m not in danger of losing anything else of importance.

The Orioles should open their books and show the people who FUND THEIR BUSINESS where their money goes.

If they spent money on baseball players and tried to compete with the rest of the big boys, we wouldn’t need to peer in their closet.

The baseball team in Baltimore has gobs and gobs of money.  A lot of it comes from you and I.  We’d just like to know what they’re doing with it, that’s all.

Open the books, Orioles.

We’ll officially call it:  Open the books 2014.

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