Tag Archive | "jemile weeks"

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Yastrzemski hits for cycle to headline Orioles minor league recap – 7/5

Posted on 05 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Here’s what happened down in the Orioles’ farm system on Saturday…

-Catcher Steve Clevenger and Shortstop Jemile Weeks recorded two hits each, but the AAA Norfolk Tides fell 6-3 to Charlotte. Starter Nick Additon struggled, allowing four earned runs (eight hits, walk) over just 4.1 innings pitched. Evan Meek worked a scoreless inning in relief.

-Slugging first base prospect Christian Walker clubbed his 20th home run of the season for the AA Bowie Baysox in a 7-1 win over Akron. Leftfielder John Ruettiger added three hits (including a double) and scored three runs in the win.

-Centerfielder Mike Yastrzemski was the star of the night on the farm, becoming the first Frederick Keys player to hit for the cycle since 2005 as the high Single A team beat Lynchburg 17-3. The grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski collected a second double, scored three runs and drove in five in the victory. Leftfielder Michael Burgess crushed two homers in the win as well.

-Preparing to represent the Orioles in the MLB All-Star Futures Game, pitcher Hunter Harvey was strong again as the Single A Delmarva Shorebirds topped Lakewood 6-3. The former first round pick allowed just one earned run on five hits (three walks) and struck out eight over six innings for his sixth win of the season.

-Notre Dame basketball player Patrick Connaughton worked two perfect innings in his second career start as the rookie level Single A Aberdeen Ironbirds beat Brooklyn 18-2. First baseman Riley Palmer was just a home run short of a cycle himself, hitting three doubles, scoring three runs and adding three RBI in the win.

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Norris officially sent to disabled list with right groin strain

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Norris officially sent to disabled list with right groin strain

Posted on 26 June 2014 by Luke Jones

(Updated: Friday at 12:05 p.m.)

BALTIMORE — After leaving his start with right groin discomfort last Saturday in New York, Orioles pitcher Bud Norris was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The right-hander underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Thursday that revealed a strain that will force him to miss at least one start. Norris was still experiencing discomfort while completing a bullpen session on Wednesday that prompted the Orioles to recommend further testing. Norris is eligible to be activated from the DL on July 7.

“When [the doctors] said it was going to be four or five days before he can get on the hill again, waiting around isn’t very beneficial,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We feel confident that we can resolve it in the DL period.”

Showalter will not need another starter until Tuesday as Kevin Gausman was summoned to pitch the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays with Chris Tillman starting the nightcap in Norris’ place. Because of Thursday’s off-day, the Orioles will send lefty Wei-Yin Chen to the hill on Saturday and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez on Sunday to conclude the four-game series. Ubaldo Jimenez will then pitch Monday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers on four days’ rest.

Gausman served as the club’s 26th man roster exemption for the day-night doubleheader and will be returned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game to fulfill his 10-day requirement in the minors. He is expected to be recalled in time to make his next start on Wednesday, but he is not an option to pitch on short rest for Tuesday’s game, according to Showalter.

The Orioles could look at current long reliever T.J. McFarland to make a spot start on Tuesday before settling into a five-man rotation with Gausman occupying Norris’ original slot.

“Right now, we’re probably looking for a break from the weather,” quipped Showalter, who added that newly-signed Norfolk lefty Randy Wolf isn’t ready to be an option for Tuesday. “We’ll be alright. We’ve got some good options.”

Right-handed relief pitcher Evan Meek was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to take Norris’ place and serve as an extra arm in the bullpen for the twin bill. Meek is 2-0 with three saves and a 2.79 ERA in 17 games for the Tides and has gone 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA in 13 appearances for the Orioles this season

With third baseman Manny Machado’s looming suspension, the Orioles must play a man down in his absence and cannot use his spot on the roster, which led to them recalling Meek to use Norris’ roster slot for the time being with that spot expected to eventually address Machado’s absence. When a decision is made on Machado, the club will add an extra infielder — presumably in place of Meek or another reliever — and Jemile Weeks will likely be recalled as he traveled to Baltimore on Thursday night.

Though Norris isn’t expected to be sidelined for long, the news is a tough break for the 29-year-old as he’s been the club’s most consistent starting pitcher this season. In 14 starts, Norris owns a 7-5 record with a 3.62 ERA in 87 innings and has struck out 60 while walking 28 batters.

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Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

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Waiting the hardest part for Orioles’ slumbering offense

Posted on 19 May 2014 by Luke Jones

Memorial Day is rapidly approaching, which brings the unofficial end of the mantra uttered countless times to explain an Orioles offense that continues to sputter over the first seven weeks of the 2014 season.

“It’s still early” doesn’t fly anymore as the season has passed the quarter pole and Baltimore ranks 13th in runs, 12th in on-base percentage, ninth in home runs, and eighth in slugging percentage in the American League. Of course, the Orioles’ free-swinging tendencies and 10th-ranked on-base percentage from a season ago made it clear that the lineup had its flaws, but no one could forecast such a dramatic power outage from a club that led the majors in long balls and was fourth in the AL in runs during the 2013 season.

Save for free-agent acquisition Nelson Cruz, whose 12 home runs are twice the output of any other player on the roster, the Orioles’ power outage has been felt up and down the lineup.

Chris Davis has only three home runs in 30 games after hitting a club-record 53 a season ago. Since returning from a strained oblique on May 11, the first baseman is hitting just .179 and has been out in front of nearly everything, evident by his four groundouts to the right side in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City, instead of waiting to drive the ball the other way like he does when at his best.

J.J. Hardy is without a long ball after hitting 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore. Early-season back and hamstring issues appear to be in the rear-view mirror, but the All-Star shortstop has yet to find his usual power stroke.

Manny Machado still hasn’t hit a double — he hit a league-leading 51 last year — and has only one home run in his first 73 plate appearances after starting the season on the 15-day disabled list and completing his recovery from offseason knee surgery. The 21-year-old deserves the benefit of the doubt after a seven-month recovery from last September’s injury, but his .240 average in the second half last year reminds us that the third baseman is far from a finished product even when healthy.

Injuries have impacted all three, but the likes of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have also tailed off in the power department in comparison to their career averages. Of course, the order hasn’t been helped by the elbow injury to catcher Matt Wieters, who was off to the best offensivee start of his career prior to being placed on the disabled list earlier this month.

So, what is manager Buck Showalter to do?

Short of taking a closer look at alternative options at second base, catcher, and left field (or designated hitter if the Orioles elect to have Cruz play in the outfield), there isn’t much to be done except continuing to run the aforementioned players out there on a daily basis.

For some perspective, Davis hit only five homers through May 19 of the 2012 season before ultimately hitting 33, a reminder that a hot stretch or two would put any of these players back on a favorable pace in the power department. In Davis’ case, reaching 53 home runs was always going to be extremely difficult, but he’s still more than capable of posting big numbers in 2014 despite the slow start.

The club’s poor on-base percentage and inability to work counts are valid criticisms and a conscious effort should be made to enhance those areas, but only marginal improvement should be expected when you’re talking about veteran hitters who’ve carried a given approach — flawed as it may be — throughout their careers. Free swingers don’t suddenly transform themselves into selective hitters at the big-league level unless you want to stunt their biggest strengths in the process.

If Showalter wants to change the mindset of veterans who might be pressing, a shakeup of the order might be a simple way to rejuvenate a group clearly capable of much better. Here’s only one example of what could be done:

RF Markakis
DH Cruz
1B Davis
CF Jones
LF Delmon Young/Steve Pearce
C Steve Clevenger
3B Machado
SS Hardy
2B Jonathan Schoop

Such an order would provide Davis with a better on-base percentage option in front of him while also taking some pressure off Machado as he tries to get his 2014 season on track. Showalter also prefers keeping his lineup balanced with right-handed and left-handed hitters to make it more difficult for opposing managers to match up with their bullpen arms late in games.

This alignment would call for Young or Pearce to be in the lineup regularly, which is preferred if the Orioles are to continue carrying both on the 25-man roster. Neither has played much since Davis’ return from the DL.

Are those suggested changes dramatic? Of course not, but there is only so much you can try as a manager when so many core members of your lineup are sputtering. Staying the course sounds cliched, but it’s the only real choice in trusting that proven track records will ultimately prevail over the results of the first 42 games of the season — as concerning as they might be.

Hitting the “Lough” point

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Lombardozzi squeezed out of infield picture with Machado’s return

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Lombardozzi squeezed out of infield picture with Machado’s return

Posted on 01 May 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles had a decision to make about the state of their infield with the much-anticipated return of third baseman Manny Machado, and Steve Lombardozzi ended up being the odd man out on Thursday.

Despite hitting .292 in 72 at-bats, the 25-year-old infielder was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Machado on the 25-man roster, raising a few eyebrows among fans who expected the light-hitting Ryan Flaherty or the recently-recalled Jemile Weeks to be demoted. As is typically the case when faced with these decisions, manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette sided with the stronger defensive player.

Weeks provides an element of speed that the Orioles are taking advantage of for the time being.

“I think where we are as a club and what are needs are going to be with Manny coming back, just initially [Jemile] might fit us a tad better, but we’ll see,” Showalter said. “But that’s a good tough decision. Two switch-hitting middle infielders.”

With Machado and shortstop J.J. Hardy coming off injuries and the first base position in flux with Chris Davis on the disabled list, versatility is a must off the bench and Flaherty has the ability to play quality defense at all four infield positions. Lombardozzi appeared in 19 games this season at second base but did not play another position as there are questions about his arm strength to play on the left side of the infield.

Of course, the Orioles could revisit the decision if Hardy and Machado play a couple weeks without any injury concerns, which would decrease the urgency for having Flaherty at their immediate disposal off the bench.

For what it’s worth, Lombardozzi’s career .638 on-base plus slugging percentage is only slightly higher than Flaherty’s .636. Of course, the latter is off to a poor start at the plate for the second year in a row and is hitting just .188.

Veteran Steve Pearce was officially back in the Orioles clubhouse Thursday and made the start at first base in Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. While right fielder Nick Markakis and Flaherty could still factor into the puzzle at first base, Pearce figures to receive an extensive opportunity as he’s played 94 games at the position in the major leagues.

“Stevie’s been hitting, he’s stayed active during the time,” said Showalter, referencing the fact that Pearce was designated for assignment on April 22. “I don’t think he ever left Baltimore.”

Machado did not start in the opening game of the doubleheader as Showalter and the 21-year-old both agreed it would be too aggressive to try to play 18 innings in his 2014 season debut. The Baltimore manager didn’t want Machado playing in Game 1 and sitting around all evening before coming off the bench to play in the late innings if necessary.

The third baseman said he didn’t do anything special over the last three days other than his normal in-season workouts and admitted he would feel some nerves before taking the field in Game 2. Showalter quipped that Thursday night would be Machado’s Opening Day after the All-Star break, referencing the club’s three straight days off because of inclement weather.

“It’s actually been kind of good for him to take his breath and get settled here in the locker room instead of traveling back and forth to Frederick,” Showalter said. “There’s nobody more excited today than Manny.”

The Orioles will activate left-handed relief pitcher Troy Patton after the first game of the doubleheader, meaning they will need to make a roster move before the nightcap. Showalter acknowledged having a roster move in mind and an intention to keep the roster at 12 pitchers, but that was dependent on how the pitching staff made it through the opening game.

Candidates to be sent out included long reliever Josh Stinson — who would need to be designated for assignment — and fellow reliever Evan Meek, who has an option remaining.

In injury-related news, veteran left-hander Johan Santana was able to touch 86 to 87 miles per hour on a few occasions while pitching in a simulated game in Sarasota on Monday. Trying to make a comeback from shoulder surgery, Santana’s velocity has steadily increased since he was signed in the spring.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold took batting practice Wednesday in Sarasota as he continues to rehab his surgically-repaired neck on the 60-day disabled list.

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Orioles set to recall Weeks while waiting on Davis’ status

Posted on 26 April 2014 by Luke Jones

As they hold their breath over the status of injured first baseman Chris Davis, the Orioles will reportedly recall infielder Jemile Weeks to fill the roster spot vacated by left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk Friday night.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Baltimore will promote Weeks and return to a 12-man pitching staff while continuing to wait on the health of Davis, who left Friday night’s game with a strained left oblique. Manager Buck Showalter and Davis expressed optimism that the injury may not be serious, but oblique strains typically take some time to fully heal.

Acquired from the Oakland Athletics in the Jim Johnson trade over the winter, Weeks is hitting .296 with four doubles, three triples, and seven runs batted in for the Tides this year.

While Weeks provides extra infield depth, the Orioles must still sort out the first base position in Davis’ absence after designating reserve outfielder and first baseman Steve Pearce for assignment earlier this week. Ryan Flaherty moved to first base in Friday’s 5-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals, but Showalter wouldn’t commit to the .179-hitting Flaherty handling that spot when asked about the possibility after the game.

Right fielder Nick Markakis has played first base in the major leagues, but is three career games enough to make Showalter comfortable with a position change that would also potentially weaken the outfield defense?

Norfolk first baseman Brett Wallace is currently hitting .167 in 72 at-bats at Triple A, so he wouldn’t appear to be a viable option.

Would executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette even entertain the possibility of promoting Double-A Bowie first baseman Christian Walker, who is off to a hot start with a .315 average, four home runs, and 18 runs batted in for the Baysox?

Or, will the Orioles get lucky and Davis only ends up missing a couple games?

Regardless of what happens, it’s an uneasy feeling for the Orioles as they were closer than ever to getting their full infield back with third baseman Manny Machado collecting two doubles and a triple Friday night to begin his minor league rehab assignment at Single-A Frederick.

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Orioles choose not to place Lough on 15-day disabled list

Posted on 09 April 2014 by Luke Jones

A day after it looked like outfielder David Lough was on his way to the 15-day disabled list, the Orioles instead received good news about his status for the immediate future.

The 28-year-old traveled to Baltimore on Wednesday for a round of concussion tests after he was dealing with symptoms similar to what he experienced last month in spring training, but he was cleared to return to the club. Manager Buck Showalter suggested Tuesday that Lough would be placed on the disabled list as the Orioles summoned infielder Jemile Weeks from Triple-A Norfolk to meet the club in New York, but Lough was expected to be back at Yankee Stadium for the series finale.

“He had some potential concussion symptoms that we wanted to check out and we did, and we’re completely clear from that, so that was really good news,” Showalter told reporters at Yankee Stadium. “He’s heading back here. We didn’t want to proceed any further until we got that as not being a possibility. That was good news we got today in the afternoon.”

It remains unclear what is causing the symptoms as Lough missed a week of action in mid-March with what was described as a neck injury, but the Orioles tested the left fielder for a possible concussion at the time. Upon returning, Lough went 7-for-19 with two doubles over his final six Grapefruit League games.

Lough is just 2-for-19 on the season after declaring himself completely healthy last week.

“The neck is fine. That is in the past now,” Lough said on April 2. “I get neck stretches on a regular basis. No problems or anything. I’m ready to go.”

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Jemile Weeks prepared to contribute to Orioles in utility role

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Jemile Weeks prepared to contribute to Orioles in utility role

Posted on 09 April 2014 by WNST Audio

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Weeks on way to New York as Orioles expected to make DL move

Posted on 09 April 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles are expected to make a roster move Wednesday as manager Buck Showalter indicated after Tuesday’s 14-5 win over the New York Yankees that a player will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Reports indicate that outfielder David Lough is going to the DL after he didn’t appear in Tuesday’s win. The 28-year-old dealt with a neck injury in mid-March, but it remains unclear whether the same ailment is affecting him again.

Infielder Jemile Weeks is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk as he traveled to the Bronx ahead of Wednesday’s series finale. Weeks has the ability to play the outfield in a pinch and will provide Showalter an extra infielder as shortstop J.J. Hardy has dealt with lower back spasms, sidelining him for four of the last five games.

Showalter said Tuesday that Hardy was close to returning to the starting lineup, but the Orioles have been forced to use the trio of Ryan Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi, and rookie Jonathan Schoop in the infield without a bench option in Hardy’s absence.

An official announcement is expected on Wednesday afternoon.

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

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Johnson Trade Too Little, Too Late

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Its official; no one will get that queezy feeling at Camden Yards in the 9th inning, when hearing “The Pretender” anymore.  Jim Johnson was moved to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman,  Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later.  What a difference a year makes.

Jim JohnsonIf the Orioles moved Johnson before last season (like I said here and here), they would have had a pick of the litter of players from several different contending teams.  What would have the Tigers or Dodgers or Cardinals have done to sure up their closing roles before 2013? It sure as hell would have been more than a 26 year old second baseman with “potential.”

The lack of proactive nature by the organization has cost the Orioles a great deal, in terms of on-field production.  Johnson has been a good relief pitcher for years, but his value was at his highest at the end of 2012 playoff season.  For a team that wants to build with youth, to sustain success for the future, making tough decisions, with generally likeable guys, is simply a must.

Jemile WeeksAs for the return, Baltimore receives a player, in Weeks, that could be the everyday second baseman (but confidence in that actually panning out has to pretty low at this point).  After being called up in 2011 (which he played 96), he posted a .303 average and .421 OPS, with 22 stolen bases. But following his stellar first MLB season, things went awfully wrong for the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft.  Hitting just .211 in 2012, leading to a demotion by the A’s; playing in only nine games in the majors in 2013.  Though he had decent numbers in the minors last season (.271 avg, .376 OPS, 17 stolen bases), Weeks could not have foreseen his career path heading in this direction.

But what could Orioles really expect to recoup in a trade for a player everyone in the MLB knows they will not pay $10 million?  Johnson was one of the most inconsistent relief pitchers in baseball last year; leading the league in saves and blown saves. He never had dominating “stuff” to finish out games, did not have enough strikeouts as a closer and put too many runners on base.

Could Johnson have contributed for the Orioles in 2014? Absolutely.  If Buck Showalter would move him back into a less-volatile role, in the 7th or 8th inning (like he was pre-2012), there is a good chance he could regain his form.  But with the manager’s loyalty, Buck would probably be too tempted to throw Johnson into a game with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth.  The team simply had to move on and got the only thing possible in return; potential.

Jim JohnsonThe same fans that wanted to DFA (designate for assignment), essentially releasing Johnson for nothing, halfway through last year, now are complaining about the balance of this trade.  As for the organization “saving” all that money, this is baseball, there is no salary cap, teams can pay players whatever they like. There is no cash limit in baseball that teams have to adhere to and the Orioles are no where near the luxury tax threshold. And with an organization that has a successful television network, cost-cutting on a contending team is inexcusable.

Did the Orioles clear some dead money off the books? Yes. Will they use that money to acquire much needed depth on the big league club? Only the next couple weeks will tell. Of course, Peter Angelos could just pocket that money and let his “baseball people” make the baseball decisions, with the roster as it stands.

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I’d say “the Orioles are no longer playing with their Johnson”…but we all know the truth.

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I’d say “the Orioles are no longer playing with their Johnson”…but we all know the truth.

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

I literally LOL’d out loud (isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?) when word trickled out late Monday night that the Orioles got bent over by the Oakland A’s in their deal involving Jim Johnson.

How could you not snicker at Dan Duquette getting one-upped by the A’s of all people?

The Orioles got fleeced on Monday night for one reason:  Every single team in the major leagues knew they weren’t going to pay Jim Johnson the $10 million salary his one-year tender would have required.

You knew it.  I knew it.  And if dummies like you and I knew it, smart baseball people in St. Louis, Boston, Tampa Bay and Oakland certainly knew it.

How did we all “know it”?

Because it’s the Orioles.

I can hear the conversation now between DD and any other general manager in the big leagues last Tuesday.

“Hey…it’s Dan Duquette in Baltimore.  We have Jim Johnson available…and we’d like a really good player or decent AAA prospect for him.”

Other team’s GM — “Why would I give you anything in return for Jim Johnson?  He’s due to make $10 million next season.  We all know you’re not going to tender him a contract next week at the deadline.  Call us back when you’re ready to take a bag of balls for him.”

When it comes to matters involving money, they’re almost always going to throw up on themselves.

Meanwhile, they’ll be getting a new $27 million check this March as part of baseball’s mega-mother TV deal that gives each MLB team a total of $54 million in 2014 (last week I wrote it was $51 million but the number has officially been established by MLB at $54 mil).

I assume Tommy Hunter will be given the ball now and “groomed” to be the team’s new closer.

Good-freakin’-luck with that.

Or, maybe they’ll give 36-year old Grant Balfour – the now-ex Oakland closer – a two-year deal at $7.5 million per-year.  Wouldn’t that be so “O’s like”?  Let the incumbent go because you’re digging in and refusing to pay $10 million for one season, but give a guy six years older an additional five million on the books because he’s “cheaper” for one season.

Back to the deal constructed by Billy Beane and the A’s.

Like the rest of the country paying attention, Beane knew the Orioles weren’t going to pay $10 million for Johnson’s services.  They only have two players on the roster currently who make more than $10 million (Jones and Markakis) and, faced with the prospect of having to give Chris Davis $13 million or more in arbitration, they just couldn’t handle ONE more guy making upwards of ten mil per-season.  Right?  Right.

So, knowing the Orioles weren’t paying Johnson, the A’s bent them over, sending some guy named Jemile Weeks (yeah, I know you’ve never heard of him — neither has anyone else) and the always exciting “player to be named later” for one of the American League’s most productive closers over the last two seasons.

Wait, I know what you’re thinking…”But, Drew, Weeks has upside…”

“Upside”.  It’s a word that Duquette and the O’s cuddle up next to – naked – with the fireplace burning and a bottle of Boone’s Farm within arm’s reach.

“Upside”.  A word the Orioles are so intimately familiar with when it comes to taking a gamble on players, they’re buying stock in home pregnancy kits.

What a joke they’ve become.

Wait…did I write “become”?  This isn’t new.  The Orioles always choose “don’t pay the player” over “pay the player”.

Of course, because you ALWAYS have to mention this, the Orioles COULD be trying to stockpile a bunch of money for the big moment this winter when they fork over a Brinks Trick for one of the game’s talented free agents like Shin-Soo Choo.

Yeah — “and if you like your plan, you can keep your plan…”

I’d love to be wrong, and frankly, the Orioles SHOULD prove all of us wrong by spending some of that $54 million in TV money (plus the $35 mil or so they give themselves from MASN), but I won’t be wrong.

They dumped Jim Johnson on Monday night because they didn’t want to pay him $10 million in 2014.  The guy they got in exchange has four more career home runs as you, me, your neighbor’s boss and the guy who took your money at the Royal Farms register this morning.

And, because the whole world knows how frugal they are, no one was at the poker table to play with Duquette when he showed up at 11pm.

Except for Billy Beane.

Oh, and while the Orioles were busy getting exposed, their business partners in Washington D.C. who actually are trying to win picked up a nice starting pitcher on Monday night, acquiring Doug Fister from the Tigers for bucket of balls and a journeyman named Steve Lombardozzi.

The Nationals picked up Doug Fister on Monday night to bolster their rotation.

The Orioles dumped $10 million in salary.

 

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