Tag Archive | "Dan Duquette"

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

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

 

Comments (1)

Orioles pitching prospect Harvey done for season with elbow injury

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Comments (1)

Duquette dismisses report of Orioles closing in on Lester trade

Tags: , , , , ,

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.”

 

Comments (0)

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

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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

Comments (0)

Orioles pondering right fit with trade deadline approaching

Tags: , , , ,

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.”

Comments (0)

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

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Comments (0)

Orioles still not tipping hand on looming Reimold decision

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Comments (2)

Veteran pitcher Santana done for season with torn Achilles

Tags: , , , ,

Veteran pitcher Santana done for season with torn Achilles

Posted on 06 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana saw his 2014 comeback attempt cruelly come to an end on Friday when the left-hander suffered a torn left Achilles tendon in Sarasota.

The 35-year-old was making his final extended spring training start and had been scheduled to join one of the Orioles’ minor-league affiliates before potentially being activated later this month. Santana was struck by a line drive on the backside and suffered the tear while stumbling, needing assistance as he walked off the field.

“Unfortunately, [with] the rehab, we didn’t get a chance to see it through to completion,” executive vice president of basball operations Dan Duquette said. “Unfortunate injury and incident for the team and for Johan. We wish Johan the best, but they’ll be some challenges in this recovery.”

Santana was signed during spring training as he attempted to make a comeback from two shoulder surgeries and had seen his velocity climb to the high 80s, making him a viable option in the eyes of the organization. Duquette confirmed the extent of the injury on Friday evening, stating that the Orioles would continue looking for starting pitching help after right-hander Miguel Gonzalez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain earlier in the day.

Manager Buck Showalter acknowledged the possibility of using a six-man rotation when Santana was scheduled to be ready later this month and has since seen both Gonzalez and the former Minnesota Twins and New York Mets pitcher go down with injuries.

The Orioles will recall right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman to take Gonzalez’s place in the rotation on Saturday and will now lean more heavily on the 2012 first-round pick to be a difference-maker in the aftermath of the disappointing news about Santana.

Comments (0)

Buying high on Samardzija unlikely to bring desired payoff

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

Buying high on Samardzija unlikely to bring desired payoff

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.

 

Comments (1)

Struggling Orioles reliever Hunter lands on DL with groin injury

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Struggling Orioles reliever Hunter lands on DL with groin injury

Posted on 22 May 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A week after surrendering the closer job due to his early-season struggles, Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.

The right-hander said he suffered the strain while throwing prior to Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hunter was unavailable on Wednesday night and was replaced on the 25-man roster by right-hander Preston Guilmet, who had a brief stint with the Orioles earlier this month before being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk on May 13.

“Anytime you do anything to move it around, it’s going to be sore,” Hunter said prior to Thursday’s series opener against the Cleveland Indians. “I shut it down as soon as it happened, so I went in and got treatment and showed up today.”

Hunter has a history of groin issues that dates back to his days with the Texas Rangers as the 27-year-old had a stint on the DL that lasted two months, but manager Buck Showalter is optimistic that the club was being proactive in shutting down the struggling reliever immediately to allow him to return quickly.

Named the Baltimore closer at the end of spring training, Hunter has a 6.06 earned run average and was 11-for-14 in converting save opportunities, but consecutive blown saves last week prompted Showalter to remove the hard-throwing pitcher from the role. Left-hander Zach Britton has converted the only situation the Orioles have had since Hunter blew a save against the Detroit Tigers on May 13.

It remains unclear whether the reliever will remain with the club for the next road trip or travel to Sarasota to continue treatment and rehab for the injury. Hunter made it known that the groin strain was not what was causing his struggles over the first two months of the season as he’s posted a 1.84 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 19 appearances spanning 16 1/3 innings.

“There is really no excuses for those [games], sorry,” Hunter said. “If that is what everyone is fishing for. I apologize.”

The 26-year-old Guilmet has appeared in two games for the Orioles this season, striking out three without allowing a run in 1 2/3 innings. Showalter was hopeful that Guilmet could provide some length out of the bullpen if necessary after Chris Tillman was knocked out in the second inning of Wednesday’s game at Pittsburgh.

Davis healthy and expecting

First baseman Chris Davis hopes to build on the momentum of Tuesday night’s three-homer performance in Pittsburgh and says the strained oblique that landed him on the 15-day DL in late April is no longer a factor as he tries to bounce back from a slow start to the 2014 season.

The 2013 All-Star selection quipped that his left elbow was hurting after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday, but his oblique has held up well since returning from the DL on May 11.

“The first couple of games I came back, I don’t want to say it was stiff, but it was almost like it was rusty,” Davis said. “I hadn’t done anything for a couple of weeks. But it hasn’t bothered me. There were a couple times this last series when I took some hard check swings, but stopping [my swing] was something that killed me. I didn’t feel it, so it’s good to know that it is behind me.”

Davis’ wife, Jill, is expecting the couple’s first child and is scheduled to be induced on Sunday morning, meaning the Orioles are planning for Davis to miss games on Sunday and Monday before rejoining the club in Milwaukee. Of course, that timetable would change if she goes into labor prior to then, and Davis will be placed on the paternity list, which allows a player to be removed from the roster for up to three days.

Infielders Jemile Weeks and Steve Lombardozzi are considered the prime candidates to take Davis’ place on the roster.

Santana making more progress

Veteran left-hander Johan Santana continues to impress in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery as he threw 58 pitches in a four-inning outing in an extended spring training game.

Santana allowed one run on a home run and his velocity was once again in the upper 80s as his fastball was clocked as high as 90 miles per hour. Santana is expected to pitch in one more extended spring game before being assigned to pitch for an affiliate.

After signing the former two-time American League Cy Young Award winner in early March, the Orioles estimated that Santana would need until early June to continue rehabbing his surgically-repaired left shoulder, a timetable that appears to be very accurate as he continues making progress and increasing his velocity.

More baby news

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and his wife, Amy, welcomed a baby boy named Colt shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.

 

Comments (0)