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Orioles remain in holding pattern with Schoop

Posted on 30 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles know Jonathan Schoop is ready to be activated, but they’re not in a rush to make it happen.

The second baseman once again worked out at Camden Yards on Tuesday and will continue his rehab assignment at Single-A Frederick in the next day or two. What happens after that remains to be seen as Schoop’s assignment is scheduled to expire on Friday and the Orioles are discussing their options, including sending him down to the minor leagues temporarily.

A well-documented surplus of outfielders on the 25-man roster remains a sticking point as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter are currently using a six-man bullpen and will need to make space for Kevin Gausman to start Thursday’s series finale against the Texas Rangers. Schoop is not expected to travel with the Orioles to Chicago for the weekend series against the White Sox.

“Obviously, he can be optioned. There are a lot of things there for us,” Showalter said. “Jonathan will benefit by every day he can get the knee that much stronger. It’s a pretty significant injury, so I want to keep that in mind, but we feel like Jon — if we had to — could be activated [or] he could benefit by playing in the minor leagues.”

While many have questioned the Orioles’ hesitation in activating Schoop, there is a baseball argument in favor of optioning him to the minors that goes beyond the roster crunch and wanting to take it slow with his rehabilitated right knee. Few would dispute Schoop’s potential or standing as the second baseman of the future, but the Orioles have received better-than-expected play from Ryan Flaherty at second base this season.

It was easy to get caught up in Schoop’s hot start to 2015 with three home runs in 29 plate appearances, but the young infielder is far from a finished product after hitting .209 with a .598 on-base plus slugging percentage as a rookie. Entering Tuesday, Flaherty was hitting .254 with a very solid .734 OPS, which ranked seventh in the American League among second basemen with at least 150 plate appearances.

To be clear, there is no second base controversy, but the position has been in good hands during Schoop’s recovery and will remain that way while the Orioles bide their time with the roster crunch and making a decision on when to activate the 23-year-old. Once Schoop returns, Flaherty has earned the right to remain in the mix at second base while also occasionally spelling J.J. Hardy at shortstop.

“He’s a lot more than a safety net,” said Showalter of the utility infielder and former Rule 5 pick. “He’s a guy you can run out there at about six positions that I feel comfortable with him. You don’t really appreciate those guys until you don’t have them. Everybody’s always looking for that guy.

“Ryan’s showing some things that you look for in an everyday player too. He’s made some adjustments in his swing and mentality that have been very evident. Some guys figure it out at 28 or 29. He’s a guy that’s easy to trust.”

NOTES: Right-handed pitcher Jason Garcia is expected to begin a rehab assignment in the near future after a couple more bullpen sessions. The Rule 5 selection was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis on May 15. … Chris Davis was making his fourth start in right field in the last five games with Chris Parmelee back at first base on Tuesday night. … Manny Machado entered Tuesday ranked sixth in batting average (.307), fifth in hits (91), and ninth in OPS (.891) in the American League.

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Machado has huge offensive night in first rehab start at Frederick

Posted on 26 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Baltimore Orioles 3B Manny Machado went 3-4 with two doubles, a triple and two runs scored for the Frederick Keys in his first rehab appearance Friday.

Machado received his first organized at-bats since his 2013 season ended abruptly due to a knee injury.

The All-Star worked as the Single A (Carolina League)’s Designated Hitter in a 5-3 loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The Birds had hoped to have him play in the field Friday night but rainy conditions at Harry Grove Stadium scrapped those plans.

The team’s former first round pick was pleased with the work he got in his first outing but realized it did not put him on the fast track to a return to the major leagues. Here is what Machado told MLB.com after the game Friday night…

“I feel good at the plate. I feel good overall, running the bases, which is the most important thing.”

“First game under the lights, first game in front of a big crowd like this, so it’s definitely a big obstacle we’ve crossed and hopped over. So hopefully we can continue it, and as soon as possible get back out there.”

“If I would have hit four home runs, I’m not going to go tomorrow and play in the big leagues. It’s not how it works. I wish it was that easy. But this is just a process. It’s not how many hits I get or how many plays I make. It’s more getting a feel for it, playing nine innings, being on your feet for the whole game. There’s a lot of things that come into play before just having a good game.”

MLB.com also reported Machado is expected to play nine innings at third base for the Keys Saturday and will stay with the team through Sunday before being re-evaluated. The next step would likely see Machado joining the Orioles’ AA (Bowie) or AAA (Norfolk) affiliate to make final preparations for his 2014 big league debut.

Machado had been playing in extended Spring Training games in Sarasota for roughly the past week.

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Bundy allows first pro earned runs but wins Frederick debut

Posted on 27 May 2012 by WNST Staff

FREDERICK, MD – In front of an over-capacity crowd of 9,833 fans at Harry Grove Stadium, the Keys won 5-3 over the Salem Red Sox in Dylan Bundy’s highly anticipated debut with the Frederick Keys.

Dylan Bundy earned the win after going five innings and allowing two runs on six hits and also collecting six strikeouts and no walks.

The 19-year old, who had a 0.00 ERA in Delmarva through 30 innings, gave up the first earned runs of his professional career when Travis Shaw of Salem hit a two-run homerun over the right-center field wall.

Yet that was his lone blemish as he held the league’s best hitting team to two earned runs through five innings of work.

The performance from Bundy helps pushes the Keys to 17-27 on the year while Salem slips to 26-19.

After the Keys took a 1-0 lead in the second on a sacrifice fly from Michael Mosby, that’s when Salem struck with Shaw’s two-run homerun off of Bundy to take a 2-1 lead.

It wouldn’t last long as Kipp Schutz connected on a pitch in the very next inning for a solo homerun – his first of the year – to tie the score at two.

Later in the inning, after Bobby Stevens singled and Michael Rooney drew a big two-out walk, Trent Mummey hit a two-RBI double to give the Keys the lead right back at 4-2.

Getting an insurance run from a Jeremy Nowak single to make it 5-2 in the seventh, the Keys’ bullpen held strong, allowing just one run in a combined four innings of work.

The Keys will try and win the rubber match against Salem tomorrow at 6 PM for Girls Night Out when RHP Kyle Simon (1-6, 4.40 ERA) goes against RHP Miguel Celestino (2-1, 3.46 ERA).

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High-A Frederick next test for Orioles prospect Bundy

Posted on 23 May 2012 by WNST Staff

It was only a matter of time until 2011 Orioles first-round pick Dylan Bundy found himself moving up the levels of Baltimore’s minor league sytem with the success and dominance he has been having.

Dylan Bundy

The Orioles announced Wednesday that Bundy would be moving up from the Delmarva Shoebirds to the Frederick Keys, the “high-A” class of the Orioles’ minor leagues.

He will make his first start for Frederick Saturday against Salem, the Keys announced.

In 30 innings of work for Delmarva, Bundy-the fourth overall pick out of Owasso High School-registered 40 strikeouts while only allowing five hits, two walks, and two unearned runs.

If Bundy’s success were to continue, he could find himself moving up another level to the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate in Bowie, or maybe a major league call-up in September.

 

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Stevenson Defense Suffocates Hood College In Win

Posted on 01 April 2012 by WNST Staff

FREDERICK, Md.—The Hood College men’s lacrosse team (3-9, 1-3 CAC) held the No. 7 ranked Stevenson University (9-2, 4-0 CAC) to 13 goals but it was not enough to take down the top 10 Mustangs. The 13 goals given up were the fewest Stevenson has scored against Hood in the series between the two schools.

Hood’s defense played extremely hard all day with constant harassment being put on the Stevenson attackers. Junior defender Doug Brisbane played a nice game picking up six groundballs and causing four turnovers. Sophomore Mark Filuta also played a stellar game on the defensive end scooping a groundball and causing two Mustang turnovers.

Senior Cory Roberts scored goal number 12 on the season to give him the most on the team. Junior Trey Freeman registered a goal and an assist as he reached double-digits in goals this season with ten. Attacker Joey O’Hara notched his sixth goal of the campaign to round out Hood’s scoring on the afternoon.

Freshman goalkeeper Joseph McCulloh played a good game in goal with a relentless Stevenson attack coming at him all game. McCulloh made 18 saves on 30 shots while fellow freshman Cody Hass played the last five minutes of the second quarter and registered a save on two shots. Hood was countered by Stevenson goalkeepers Ian Bolland and Kevin Cain who combined to make four saves on seven shots.

Stevenson’s Chris Dashiell paced the Mustang attack netting five goals and assisting on one other. Hood was never able to get the Mustangs out of their rhythm passing game that proved too difficult for the blue and grey to keep up with.

Stevenson scored the first four goals of the game and all of the goals in the first quarter. Roberts put the Blazers on the board with his second quarter goal and O’Hara netted his goal in the second as well with a man up for Hood. Stevenson though would take a 7-2 lead into the half after a Dashiell goal with 37.0 seconds remaining.

Freeman scored Hood’s lone goal of the second half with a strong strike off a good feed from Ricky Orndorff. Dashiell scored three second half goals as the Mustangs won the half 6-1 en route to its fourth conference victory of the season.

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Maryland Announces 24 Man Recruiting Class for 2012

Posted on 01 February 2012 by WNST Staff

Maryland Adds 24 Recruits for 2012 Season

Terps ink 12 recruits on both sides of the ball, including 11 area players

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland head football coach Randy Edsall announced Wednesday the addition of 24 recruits for the 2012 season, 20 of whom signed national letters-of-intent.

The class includes both 12 offensive and defensive players, with 11 of the prospects hailing from the Maryland/Washington, D.C., area, more than double last year’s total, and five incoming players labeled as four-star recruits.

“I’m excited about the depth and quality of this class,” Edsall said. “All of these student-athletes are outstanding individuals who come from winning programs, have a great work ethic and leadership skills, and understand the team concept. Our staff did a great job in identifying the players who fit the profile we’re looking for in a Maryland football player.”

According to ESPN.com, five of the top 18 players in the state are heading to Maryland, including a pair of SuperPrep All-Americans in offensive lineman Mike Madaras and running back Wes Brown, who were teammates at Good Counsel (Md.) High School.

“We were able to make some in roads in our prime recruiting areas of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania,” Edsall said. “We got into some areas and schools which we haven’t been able to in a long time.”

Maryland fulfilled a number of needs on both sides of the ball with running back, linebacker and defensive back the most represented positions.

“I’m really pleased with the balance of this class,” Edsall said. “This is a class which will come in and blend in well with our returning players.”

In addition to Brown, the Terps added another four-star player in Albert Reid, the 2011 D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year, as well as Kenneth Goins and Joe Riddle, to their backfield. That group comprised the second-best running back class in the nation, according to Scout.com.

Abner Logan is the most highly regarded of the five linebackers who will join the team in the fall. Logan was a four-star selection by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com. Rivals.com has the Maryland linebacker class pegged as 16th-best in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

All-state performers Brock Dean, one of five players from Pennsylvania, Stefan Houston, Shawn Petty and Avery Thompson will join Logan as first-year linebackers in the program.

The Terps also added five defensive backs, including Sean Davis of Maret School in Washington, D.C., Alvin Hill, one of three signees from the state of Georgia, and Anthony Nixon, the lone New Jersey recruit.

Isaac Goins and Zach Dancel are a pair of transfers who will join the secondary. Goins, who played at Contra Costa (Calif.) College the last two years, enrolled in classes last month and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Dancel, who played at Good Counsel with Brown and Madaras, will join the team in the fall. He is transferring from the University of New Mexico at the end of the spring semester.

The Terps only recruited two offensive linemen, but both are four-star products. In addition to Madaras, Nick Brigham, who hails from Atlanta, will join the team in the fall.

Amba Etta-Tawo is the third product from the state of Georgia and one of three wide receivers in the class, joining Malcolm Culmer and Levern Jacobs, who enrolled in classes in January after spending the fall semester at Milford (N.Y.) Academy.

Defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson of Pittsburgh, who signed with the Terps in 2011, is the third spring enrollee. Roman Braglio, a consensus All-Maryland player, is the other addition along the defensive line.

The Terps are adding a pair of quarterbacks with Scout.com ranking that position No. 10 in the nation.

Caleb Rowe of Landrum, S.C., is the 26th-ranked pro-style QB in the country and Perry Hills, of Pittsburgh, is viewed as the No. 29 signal-caller in the nation.

Maryland also has a quality addition at tight end. P.J. Gallo of Holland, Pa., is the 23rd-ranked tight end in the nation according to Scout.com.

2012 Maryland Recruiting Class

 

Name                        Pos.     Ht.      Wt.     Yr.-Elig  Hometown (High School/Previous School)

Roman Braglio           DL        6-3      240    Fr.-HS     Owings Mills, Md. (McDonogh High School)

Nick Brigham             OL        6-2      280    Fr.-HS     Atlanta, Ga. (Marist School)

Wes Brown                RB        6-1      210    Fr.-HS     Olney, Md. (Good Counsel High School)

Malcolm Culmer         WR       6-0      180    Fr.-HS     New Jersey N.J. (Willingboro High School)

Zach Dancel^             DB       6-0      185    So.-TR    Ellicott City, Md. (Good Counsel High School/New Mexico)

Sean Davis                DB       6-1      185    Fr.-HS     Washington, D.C. (Maret School)

Brock Dean                LB        6-0      210    Fr.-HS     Harrisburg, Pa. (Bishop McDevitt High School)

Amba Etta-Tawo         WR       6-2      175    Fr.-HS     Powder Springs, Ga. (McEachern High School)

P.J. Gallo                  TE        6-2      225    Fr.-HS     Holland, Pa. (Council Rock High School South)

Isaac Goins#              DB       6-0      185    Jr.-TR     Hercules, Calif. (El Cerrito High School/Contra Costa College)

Kenneth Goins           RB        5-10    210    Fr.-HS     Baltimore, Md. (Gilman School)

Alvin Hill                    DB       5-11    190    Fr.-HS     Locaust Grove, Ga. (Luella High School)

Perry Hills                  QB       6-3      205    Fr.-HS     Pittsburgh, Pa. (Central Catholic High School)

Stefan Houston          LB        6-2      192    Fr.-HS     Clarksburg, Md. (Clarksburg High School)

Levern Jacobs#          WR       6-0      180    Fr.-HS     Temple Hills, Md. (Suitland High School/Milford Academy)

Quinton Jefferson*     DL        6-4      250    Fr.-HS     Pittsburgh, Pa. (Woodland Hills High School)

Abner Logan              LB        6-1      220    Fr.-HS     Cambridge, Mass. (Dexter School)

Mike Madaras            OL        6-5      293    Fr.-HS     Olney, Md. (Good Counsel High School)

Anthony Nixon           DB       6-1      200    Fr.-HS     Pittsburgh, Pa. (Central Catholic High School)

Shawn Petty               LB        6-2      228    Fr.-HS     Greenbelt, Md. (Eleanor Roosevelt High School)

Albert Reid                 RB        5-10    177    Fr.-HS     Washington, D.C. (Friendship Collegiate Academy)

Joe Riddle                 RB        6-0      195    Fr.-HS     Frederick, Md. (Linganore High School)

Caleb Rowe               QB       6-2      185    Fr.-HS     Landrum, S.C. (Blue Ridge High School)

Avery Thompson        LB        6-2      205    Fr.-HS     Chesapeake, Va. (Grassfield High School)

* – signed in 2011 and enrolled in January; # – enrolled in January; ^ – transfer who will enroll in the fall

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Orioles top prospect Machado makes Frederick debut with bang

Posted on 23 June 2011 by Luke Jones

FREDERICK, Md. — With the Orioles wallowing in last place on the heels of a 3-6 road trip, I took the trip west on I-70 to take a peek at the newly-promoted Manny Machado in his Frederick Keys debut on Thursday night.

The 18-year-old shortstop didn’t disappoint.

In his second at-bat in high Single-A baseball, the Orioles’ top minor league prospect homered deep over the left-field wall to highlight a 1 for 4 night as the Keys fell to Winston-Salem, 2-1.

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The unreasonable comparisons to Alex Rodriguez have been made since before Machado was taken with the third overall pick 12 months ago, but the Miami native looked a lot like the current Yankees third baseman as the majestic drive didn’t even spark a movement from left fielder Nick Ciolli, who watched it sail far over the wall with everyone else.

“I was just trying to be patient and trying to get a pitch to drive,” Machado said. “[Winston-Salem starter Cameron Bayne] gave me a fastball, and I put a little hop into it.”

Despite being the youngest player in the Carolina League, Machado showed the same patience at the plate he displayed when walking 23 times in 145 at-bats in Delmarva. His third-inning shot came on a 2-1 fastball from Dash starter Cameron Bayne.

“He’s got a pretty good idea at the plate,” Frederick manager Orlando Gomez said. “For a young player, he has a plan. He goes to home plate, he has a plan. He likes to look for certain pitches, situations, everything. That’s why he’s No. 1.”

Machado has struggled to regain his timing since missing a month with a left knee injury while with the Shorebirds. In 13 games this month, the young shortstop was hitting just .182 before going to the South Atlantic League All-Star game earlier this week.

The 2010 first-round pick was hitting .276 overall with six home runs, 24 runs batted in, and a .376 on-base percentage with the Shorebirds at the time of the promotion.

“I’ve struggled a little bit the last couple weeks, but I feel my swing getting back,” Machado said. “Hopefully, I can continue my progress up here and continue hitting.”

Defensively, Machado showed a strong throwing arm on a couple routine grounders, but was otherwise unchallenged by the Winston-Salem hitters. Many have speculated whether the 6-foot-2 infielder will eventually slide over to third base because of his size, but he’s looked relatively smooth in his limited minor league experience.

Machado joins fellow Keys infielder Jonathan Schoop, who is climbing up the prospect watch list with a combined .313 average for Delmarva and Frederick that includes eight homers, 41 RBI, and a .487 slugging percentage entering Thursday. Projected to eventually be a third baseman, the 19-year-old Schoop started at second base and was 1 for 4 with a single.

In a bit of good news for an organization short on positional talent in the minor leagues, Machado and Schoop were selected to represent the Orioles in the 2011 Futures Game in Phoenix as part of the All-Star Game festivities on July 10. The two join the likes of current Orioles Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman to participate in the game.

“I was hoping to get the call,” Machado said. “That was one of my goals this year. I’m pretty happy about that. I’m excited.”

At just 18 years old and already playing in Frederick, it’s clear Machado isn’t the only one excited.

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MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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EXCLUSIVE: It was Peter Angelos vs. Steve Bisciotti in latest skirmish over MASN & Ravens TV rights

Posted on 08 August 2010 by WNST Staff

In a city with two sports teams and a major regional sports TV network that’s owned by one of them, conflict is inevitable.

So, when the Ravens sat down at the negotiating table with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) last spring to hammer out the details of a new contract, the football team was prepared for a difficult negotation but maintained confidence a deal would get done for their pre-season games and weekly TV shows such as The John Harbaugh Show.

Instead, the Ravens abruptly lost their broadcast partner last week in an 11th-hour flip by MASN owner Peter Angelos, who also owns the rival sports franchise in Baltimore, the MLB Orioles.

The two parties, led by high ranking officials from the Ravens and MASN, reached a verbal agreement on a new four-year deal in April.  “It actually went more smoothly than we thought it might,” said a Ravens source.  “We went in asking that our old four-year deal just be renewed under the same terms and conditions and they (MASN) were agreeable.  The deal was beneficial for both of us.  MASN got winter programming exclusive to their network and we were able to bring the shows that comprised Rave TV to the Ravens fan base throughout the Mid Atlantic.”

There were a few new twists to the agreement, including more prominently placed signage for MASN at M&T Bank Stadium and the installation of permanent fiber-optic wiring in the press rooms at the stadium to give MASN the highest quality production capabilities.

“We put in an extensive amount of work and product in June and July,” said a Maryland Stadium Authority source, who was part of the team that supervised the installation. “And the Ravens paid for all of it.”

At stake now, are various forms of Ravens-exclusive programming that range from weekly shows to pre- and post-game specials for both home and away games.

“The deal is dead,” said a Ravens source. “Angelos killed it at the end of July when our staff was already on the street selling packages.”

A MASN source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the change in the agreement occurred earlier in the summer when Orioles majority owner and MASN managing partner Peter Angelos got involved.  When the two parties consummated their first deal in 2006, the elder Angelos wasn’t involved in the final stages of the negotiation. It was more John Angelos and other officials, who were just launching the money-making regional network after the birth of Washington Nationals spawned the deal.

An insider on that initial deal said: “It was a perfect marriage. The Ravens didn’t want to deal with Comcast Sportsnet, which was featuring Washington Redskins programming and treated Baltimore and the Ravens like a second-class citizen. MASN was just getting started and needed fall and winter programming and credibility and market awareness. They had a presence and partnership with the best brand in Baltimore. Everyone was happy!”

This time around, though, citing changes in the upper management structure of MASN, Peter Angelos stepped in after a verbal agreement was made in April and the deal was ready to be signed in late spring.

“Peter didn’t like the deal once he read through it all and saw the terms,” said a MASN source. “He contended that a network should NEVER pay a team a rights fee for programming if it’s not all entirely live. So we had to go back to the Ravens and tell them we weren’t going to pay them the same fee we had provided in the past. We knew it was about to get ugly.”

A source familiar with the negotiations said MASN went to the Ravens with an offer that included a “greatly reduced rights fee” and the freedom for MASN to re-run the exclusive Ravens programming with no additional compensation to the football organization.

At first, it didn’t get ugly because the Ravens weren’t totally sure what the new offer or new terms were going to be. But, eschewing the history of how the Orioles and MASN conduct business under Angelos, they remained patient, hopeful and confident that a deal was sensible and reachable.

“We couldn’t really figure out what they wanted,” says a Ravens source.  “They would always talk in generalities like, ‘We need to re-work some things’ and they’d never be real specific about what they wanted changed or what the offer was.”

“We called in early June to remind them that the deal needed to be signed and we were told then that some parts of it hadn’t yet been approved by Mr. Angelos and that they’d get back to us with some revisions.”

As has been customary and legendary from those in the MLB world who’ve dealt with Angelos, those revisions sat on Angelos’ desk for weeks and the “official answer” never came.

Just after the July 4th holiday, the Ravens again contacted MASN and asked for the signed deal so they could continue selling advertising and sponsorships for the various MASN-aired programming.

“We were getting nervous by then,” a Ravens staffer said.  “We pressed them a little bit for a signed contract, and that’s when we were told the original deal wasn’t going to be honored,” explained a Ravens source. “We were told at that point that Peter wasn’t happy about paying a rights fee and that he wanted to speak directly with owner Steve Bisciotti.”

The MASN source explained it like this: “Peter never wants to talk to a mid-level or high-level employee. It’s the top of the ladder or nothing.”

That apparently was Ravens president Dick Cass, who allegedly met with Angelos.

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

“One of Steve’s fundamental beliefs is that he employs good people who understand his business and that’s what he pays them for – to conduct business on his behalf,” said the Ravens staffer.  “When Steve got wind of the Angelos request, he said, ‘I don’t need to talk with him about this.  You people know much more about this than I do.  Get the deal done!’ ”

So that became an issue that no one at either MASN or the Ravens could fix.  One person – Angelos – who didn’t want to talk to anyone BUT the owner and another person – Bisciotti – who felt it wasn’t his position to interfere with his people’s work.

“It’s not like Peter suddenly started operating like this,” said the MASN source.  “When the time comes for the deal to get done or not, he wants to look the other guy right in the eye or at the very least speak directly with the person on the other end who is his equivalent.  This time around, it backfired on us.”

It backfired when the Ravens made a final inquiry in late July and were told that MASN’s position wasn’t changing.  A reduction in the rights fee was now the only valid offer and Angelos was adamant that Bisciotti get involved during the final days of negotiation.

Bisciotti eventually did call Angelos, but he did so to simply tell the MASN head honcho, “My people say this deal is no good for us, so we’re going to pass.”

In the aftermath, the MASN public relations people tried to soft-peddle the break-up in early August by claiming the split was amicable.  MASN spokesman Todd Webster included a “we wish the Ravens nothing but success” throwaway line when commenting to the local media, most of whom who are on the payroll or in the profit chain of MASN or Angelos himself.

(A request to speak on the record with members of the MASN executive staff about this exclusive story at WNST.net was refused.)

But WNST.net is reporting that the “split” was anything but amicable.

“We’re basically six weeks from the start of the season with a sales package on the street and a handshake for a deal from April and an existing relationship and they pulled the rug out from under us,” says the Ravens source . “There’s no way that’s going to be amicable.”

The MASN source interviewed for this exclusive piece says the Ravens knew in early June there was a potential roadblock with the deal.

“They knew as soon as Peter (Angelos) got involved there was potentially going to be trouble.  They knew the deal was shaky at that point.”

When given that response, a Ravens staffer pointed to to the recent work done at M&T Bank Stadium.  “If we really thought the deal was in trouble, we wouldn’t have spent all that money to get the stadium ready for MASN.”

A Maryland Stadium Authority source said MASN remains a valuable working partner but they acknowledge it’s not always a bed of roses working with them.  “They’ve been involved in some battles with Comcast and WBAL at the baseball stadium that got very ugly.  It almost always relates to money and it always involves Peter.  And it’s always a last minute kind of thing.  That’s their M.O.  They wait until the last minute to start trying to get things done.”

And that’s how the deal with the Ravens eventually ended.  “We just ran out of time,” says a Ravens staffer.  “We had their (MASN) signage up, so that had to come down, and our people are out now trying to re-sell it.  We have shows to produce with sponsors lined up and there’s nowhere to air them.  We’re scrambling now.”

The break-up with MASN and loss of key programming doesn’t just hurt the Ravens financially – “we were nearly sold out of inventory” the Ravens source said – but it puts a crimp on their regional branding and marketing efforts.

“We count on that programming to satisfy our fans’ needs in the outlying areas that are important to us like Frederick, Hagerstown, York, Harrisburg and Lancaster,” said a Ravens official.  “That’s one of the reasons we like MASN so much.  They truly are regional for us.  And that’s important.”

One local media expert says the break-up was not only initiated by MASN, but might have come more as a result of sagging sales efforts.

“The real truth of the whole relationship with the Ravens is that MASN’s heart was never in it.  They just wanted to take something away from Comcast,” said the media source.  “They probably lost a lot of money over the last few years with their Ravens programming and they’re getting paid the same amount by a few million subscribers whether the Ravens are on the network or whether they’re airing Hawaiian League Baseball.”

So why enter into a business agreement with the Ravens?  What’s in it for MASN?

“They (MASN) owned inventory in each of those Ravens programs, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes depending on the show and its length,” the media source explained.  “And MASN needs to sell that commercial inventory to make up for the rights fee they hand over to the Ravens.   If they can’t sell it, the whole relationship becomes a loser for MASN, except they have relevant programming to plug in during the winter months.”

“All you have to do is follow the Orioles broadcasts on MASN and you can pretty much figure out they’re having a tough time selling commercials in the baseball games.  I guess you have to ask yourself, ‘If we can’t sell all the ad space in the live programming we air 162 times a year with a Major League Baseball team, what are the odds we can sell ad space in the football season with taped shows?’ And if they were forking over $100,000 or so to the Ravens for the rights fee, that’s a lot of advertising to sell just to make that up, let alone make a profit out of it.”

A Ravens source would not confirm the amount of money MASN provided to the football team, saying only, “It was a six figure deal with our benefit being that we owned most of the time to sell to our corporate partners.”

The local media expert figures that MASN spent the early part of the spring and summer trying to sell their portion of advertising.  And when they couldn’t, they decided to go back to the Ravens and change the deal.

“That happens a lot,” says the media source.  “You’re on the hook for a lot of money and you figure you’ll sell enough to offset it.  When you initially go out and try to sell it and you can’t, you get nervous and try to change the fee structure.”

The Ravens continue to work hard to try and have their programming in place by Labor Day.  WNST has been told that Comcast SportsNet is not an option for them.

One less-appealing option is WBAL TV’s digital channel, which would serve as an olive branch from the Ravens since they’d likely make no revenue from the arrangement with WBAL.

“We’d be doing that because we want to help our broadcast partner out,” said a Ravens staffer.  “We clearly wouldn’t be involved in the same kind of rights fee deal we had with MASN, but the programming would air and that’s what’s most important at this point.”

The other obvious answer would be to air the unique programming of Rave TV on the team website, which could drive more traffic to their online hub.

The fallout of Steve Bisciotti vs. Peter Angelos and Orioles vs. Ravens will continue to be monitored at WNST.net.

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Orange Chatter: 10 Questions for 2010 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Luke Jones

In Part 1 of my 10 Questions for 2010, we pondered the health of Brian Roberts, the status of Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman, and the platoon of Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold.

Here are my second five of 10 questions entering the 2010 season:

6. Is the bullpen up to par?

Following the trade of George Sherrill last summer, it was clear the Orioles struggled in the late innings with Jim Johnson better suited in his previous role as a setup man. Andy MacPhail responded by signing free agent closer Mike Gonzalez to a two-year, $12 million contract, the club’s largest signing of the offseason.

Gonzalez has 54 career saves in a seven-year career, including 10 last season in Atlanta. While the lefty seems capable of closing games–keep in mind Sherrill was never a closer before the trade to Baltimore–Gonzalez battled a stiff back and appeared hesitant to cut it loose in Sarasota until recently. He closed out the spring with a perfect outing against the Mets on Saturday, striking out two and lowering his spring ERA to 5.14.

Gonzalez is joined in the bullpen by two mainstays in Johnson and lefty Mark Hendrickson, who thrived in the bullpen (3.44 ERA) after being moved out of the starting rotation (5.40 as a starter) last season.

However, after these three, the bullpen becomes a bit murkier, especially with Koji Uehara on the disabled list (hamstring) to begin the season. Cla Meredith had a tremendous spring (0.84 ERA) and pitched well in Baltimore after being acquired from the Padres last season but is certainly not a household name with a track record. Newcomer Will Ohman figures to provide plenty of laughs, but Trembley would like to see him evolve into an effective left-handed situational arm (a career 4.25 ERA in seven seasons).

And with three pitchers 25 or younger in the starting rotation, the club will go with two long men in Matt Albers and Jason Berken. Albers was very effective in 2008 (3.49 ERA), but a shoulder injury (torn labrum) and questions surrounding his conditioning led to an abysmal 2009 season in which he pitched to a 5.51 ERA and was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk on three different occasions.

Berken shifts to a long-relief role after starting 24 games last season (6.54 ERA). While the 26-year-old lacks the stuff of an effective starting pitcher, Trembley will look for him to eat innings should a starter be knocked out early. Of course, Berken could find himself back in the starting rotation should there be an injury or two over the course of the seaosn.

A player to keep an eye on at Norfolk is Kam Mickolio, a hard-throwing righty (part of the Erik Bedard trade with Seattle) who appeared to have a good chance of making the 25-man roster before a groin injury limited his opportunities in the spring. He projects as a late-inning man with closer potential.

As is the case with any bullpen on any team, the starting pitching will ultimately decide its fate. If starters are unable to reach the sixth or seventh inning on a consistent basis, this bullpen will inevitably wear down as we’ve seen just about every summer over the last 12 years. Improved starting pitching will hide the weaknesses in the bullpen and allow more opportunities to finish games.

7. Will Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins prove to be capable stopgaps?

The corner infield positions were two of MacPhail’s biggest priorities to address in the offseason, and he responded by adding two veterans accustomed to playing different positions than they will in 2010.

Tejada’s return to Baltimore was a controversial decision, but his ability to adjust to third base will be critical to the infield defense and pitching. Most seem to think Tejada will become a capable third baseman, but it’s hard to forget the initial struggles of both Cal Ripken and Melvin Mora when they shifted to the hot corner. One would expect Tejada to struggle in the first month or two of the season before settling in to be an average third baseman.

Tejada will also be asked to handle the cleanup spot in the order, at least until Matt Wieters is ready to grab the reins. While no longer capable of hitting 25 home runs per season—he hit just 27 in two combined seasons in Houston—Tejada led the National League with 47 doubles in 2009.

Across the diamond, Atkins shifts to first base after primarily manning the hot corner in his seven seasons in Colorado. Atkins has played 105 career games at first, so the transition should not be as drastic as Tejada’s.

The acquisition of Atkins was a curious one with the 30-year-old coming off the worst season of his career (.226, 9 home runs, 48 RBI) and safer options such as Adam LaRoche available. The club hopes Atkins can regain his pre-2009 form when he averaged 25 home runs and 110 RBI over three seasons.

Neither player figures to be in the fold when the Orioles aim to contend in the next few years—both signed one-year deals—but with prospects Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder likely a year away from the big leagues, Tejada and Atkins will be depended on for offense and steady defense on the corners. At the very least, neither contract will come back to haunt the club should either player prove ineffective.

8. How good will Brian Matusz be?

Though the hype hasn’t rivaled the insane expectations for Wieters, Matusz appears set to contend for the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year after starting eight games down the stretch, going 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA.

His 2009 minor league numbers look like something out of a video game, as he went a combined 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA at Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. In fact, Matusz was even better after being promoted to Bowie, going a perfect 7-0 record with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts.

Matusz was fantastic in the spring, finishing with a 2.59 ERA while striking out 21 and walking just three in 24.1 innings.

There’s a reason why he’s on every top-10 prospect list you’ll find this spring. Though Matusz would be hard-pressed to match Mike Mussina’s numbers in his first full year in 1992, don’t be shocked if he’s the Orioles’ best pitcher by mid-season. He might be already.

A scout was recently asked about Matusz in Baseball Prospectus: “He might have been the best pitcher I saw all spring, and I’m not just talking about prospects.”

Need we say more?

9. Is Dave Trembley managing his last season in Baltimore?

While many wondered about Trembley’s job security as the Orioles collapsed down the stretch last season, which included a 13-game losing streak that nearly pushed the club past the 100-loss mark, MacPhail retained Trembley while also declaring the 2010 season would be judged more critically on wins and losses.

It’s clear Trembley has had a near-impossible task trying to win with inferior talent in the AL East, but the skipper cannot expect a free ride either. Baserunning gaffes, poor fundamentals, and questionable bullpen management were major issues in 2009, regardless of who was on the field. It’s no secret the Orioles lack the talent of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, so playing fundamentally-sound baseball is an absolute necessity if the club wants to improve in 2010.

Trembley’s supporters continue to claim he hasn’t had a chance to compete in his three seasons as manager, but the lack of talent cannot excuse some of the problems witnessed in 2009. Having bad players doesn’t mean you’re a bad manager, but it doesn’t mean you’re a capable manager either.

It’s imperative for the club to make significant improvement in 2010, or Trembley will be shown the door at the end of the season—if not sooner.

10. Will the Orioles make it an unlucky number 13?

Twelve years.

Twelve painful, long years.

The Orioles begin the new decade after closing out the first 10 years of the century without a winning season, their last winning campaign coming in 1997.

But unlike most of the last 12 years, it really looks as though the team will improve from where it was a year ago, though it’s difficult to go any direction but up after a 98-loss season. The problem is even a 15-game improvement–a tremendous accomplishment—would only create a 79-83 mark and a 13th straight losing season.

If the Orioles have any hope of a .500 season, they not only have to thrive against the AL Central and West but must find a way to avoid the utter embarrassment experienced last year against the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Orioles were 5-13 against the Bronx Bombers, and the results were even worse with the Red Sox, as Baltimore was an egregious 2-16 against Boston. Another 7-29 mark—far and away their worst record against the two AL East powers over the last 12 seasons—is unacceptable, if not unfathomable.

Forget about money, competitive imbalance, or recent history. A .194 winning percentage over 36 games against the Yankees and Red Sox should never happen.

When it all adds up, the Orioles can make significant improvement in 2010, but it looks like a 13th consecutive losing season is almost inevitable.

A record in the neighborhood of 77-85 will not rejuvenate the fan base immediately, but it would be a sizable step in the right direction.

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Ballpark thought

Posted on 24 April 2007 by caseywillett

Jaret Wright and Ramon Hernandez are headed to Frederick where they will be the battery for the Keys tomorrow. Ramon will DH on Wednesday and hopefully return to the team the following day.

Nick Swisher was walking around sporting a Tom Cruise The Last Samurai hair style during batting practice today, slicked back hair, pony tail and beard.

One of my favorite college players growing up is a member of the A

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