Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was removed from the starting lineup just before first pitch Tuesday night in Anaheim.
The reigning American League platinum glove leader was scratched with “back tightness” according to the team. Machado has no previous history with back injuries-he missed the first month of the 2014 season as he recovered from knee surgery.
Ryan Flaherty played in Machado’s place at third base and hit ninth in the lineup against the Los Angeles Angels. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop was moved up to the seventh spot in the lineup with Machado out.
O’s manager Buck Showalter told reporters after the game Machado was day-to-day with the injury. The skipper described the injury as “spasms” and noted that Machado told him only minutes before the game he couldn’t play.
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.
NEW YORK, Nov. 8, 2013 – Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc. a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation (NYSE: JAH), announced that Baltimore Orioles™ third baseman Manny Machado and Atlanta Braves™ shortstop Andrelton Simmons won the 2013 Rawlings Platinum Glove Award™ presented by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) in their respective Leagues. The winners were unveiled tonight during the 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® Ceremony presented by Gold Sport Collectibles at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, where the game’s defensive stars accepted their hardware from some of the baseball’s greatest legends.
Simmons won the closest vote yet in the 3-year history of the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award, with first and third place separated by only 0.5 percent of the total vote. The second-year shortstop and first-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner edged St. Louis Cardinals™ catcher and 2-time defending Rawlings Platinum Glove Award winner Yadier Molina, 20.2 percent to 20.0 percent, with Milwaukee Brewers™ center fielder Carlos Gomez finishing third with 19.7 percent.
Machado, celebrating his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award, earned 24.9 percent of the overall selection tally, besting Boston Red Sox™ second baseman Dustin Pedroia (16.1 percent) and Baltimore shortstop and teammate J.J. Hardy (14.7 percent).
This year marked the third presentation of the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award presented by the Society for American Baseball Research, and the first year where sabermetrics was integrated into the selection process. In the previous two years, the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award winners were selected solely by fans via an online vote on Rawlings’ website. The international fan vote remains an essential component to determine the Award winner.
“When we launched the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award fan inclusion platform in 2011, we knew that baseball fans worldwide followed all aspects of the game,” said Kurt Hunzeker, senior director of brand marketing for St. Louis-based Rawlings. “They see the great plays on the field and follow with the same level of avidity the advanced statistics that highlight all factors that go into making a great play in the field. Their selection of Manny and Andrelton – the sabermetrically best defenders in baseball this year – as ‘The Finest in the Field’ only amplifies our new collaboration with SABR as an immediate and resounding success.”
Both players led numerous defensive metrics categories, including the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). Machado’s 32.4 SDI led all of baseball, with Simmons’ 29.3 SDI pacing the National League™. The SDI accounted for approximately 25 percent of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process.
“It’s exciting to see the convergence of defensive metrics and fan voting,” said Vince Gennaro, president of SABR and chair of the SABR Fielding Committee. “It shows that technology is allowing us to improve our measurement and that these measures are influencing fans’ choices.”
Voting began at the conclusion of the 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Announcement Show presented by American Airlines on ESPN2′s “Baseball Tonight” on October 29, 2013, and ran for one week. Fan discussion surrounding the Award on social media was fostered in part by some team’s open campaigning for their nominee. ESPN’s Karl Ravech and SABR’s Gennaro announced the winners live on stage during the Hollywood award show format.
Molina and Texas Rangers™ third baseman Adrian Beltre each won the two previous Rawlings Platinum Glove Awards in each League.
The full list of SDIs for all qualified players eligible for a 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award will be available on Saturday, November 9, 2013, on SABR’s website (www.sabr.org).
Goldschmidt, Gomez, Machado, Parra, Simmons
Win for the first time
Gordon, Molina, Pedroia win again
“If you want to be viewed as the best—bar none—then you want to win The Fielding Bible Award at your position.” says John Dewan, co-author of The Fielding Bible III and owner of Baseball Info Solutions. “The Bill James Handbook, which hits the bookstores on November 1, announces six new players and three returning players as worthy of the honor for their fielding par excellence during the 2013 season.”
“Andrelton Simmons set a single-season record (since we started tracking Defensive Runs Saved in 2003) by saving 41 runs at shortstop for the Atlanta Braves,” Dewan points out. “And Simmons had company breaking the record. Gerardo Parra saved 36 runs in right field for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013. But with four more runs saved in center field and one run saved in left, Parra also had 41total Defensive Runs Saved and joined Simmons with the highest runs saved performances on record. They were, without a doubt, the best fielders last year at their position, regardless of league. On top of those two, Carlos Gomez saved 38 runs for the Milwaukee Brewers playing center field. And Manny Machado had 35 runs saved for the Baltimore Orioles at third base. They, too, deserved singular recognition.”
“So, four players set or tied the previous record for most Defensive Runs Saved in a season at their position,” notes Dewan. “Four players who had never received a Fielding Bible Award or Gold Glove in their careers. Until now. All four players were rewarded with their first Fielding Bible Awards. In addition, we chose Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks at first base and R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays at pitcher—both for the first time as well.”
“The twelve expert panelists on the Fielding Bible Awards panel, including Peter Gammons, Bill James, Brian Kenny, and Joe Posnanski,” Dewan concludes, “also gave Fielding Bible Awards to Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox for second base, Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals for left field, and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher—Pedroia for the second time in three years, Gordon for the second time in a row, and Molina for an amazing sixth time. Does anyone really doubt that Yadier has been the best-fielding catcher in either league for the last decade?”
There were five winners this year from National League teams and four from American League teams. In 2012 it was a 5-4 advantage to the AL, in 2011 it was 5-4 in favor of the NL, and in 2010 it was s 5-3-1 split for the AL (with Jack Wilson splitting his time at shortstop between leagues with Pittsburgh and Seattle).
The 2013 Fielding Bible Award winners are:
First Base – Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
It has certainly been a “storybook” season for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. No matter how their postseason run ends, there will be memories that will last for a lifetime.
I had an itch this week to compile a list of the top ten storylines for the season. It wasn’t an easy task, but here goes.
10. The ultimate reclamation
It isn’t SO crazy to think a team would have given OF Nate McLouth another chance in 2012. The former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star was at least playing Major League Baseball, even if he hadn’t had a particularly good season since 2009.
Lew Ford was another story altogether. Ford went a full five years between Major League at-bats before being called up to Baltimore after ripping the cover off the ball at AAA Norfolk.
McLouth has been a significant contributor since being called up in August, taking over the every day LF spot and batting leadoff since Nick Markakis got hurt. Ford hasn’t contributed quite as much, but has come up with three big home runs when inserted into the lineup against lefties.
It has also lead to Tweets like this throughout the season…
9. “Why Not Again?”
Perhaps not the most significant story of the year, the story of Steve Johnson has likely been the most heart warming for Charm City in 2012.
I pulled this picture from Steve’s Facebook page…it’s probably three or four years old. I’d be willing to bet that at this point in his life, he’s probably embarrassed by things like this.
A Kingsville native, former St. Paul’s star and son of a former Orioles pitcher (and current broadcast analyst) made some of the more significant starts of the 2012 season. It’s Hollywood quality stuff. Even more amazingly, Johnson picked up his first big league win on August 8, 23 years removed from the exact date his father picked up HIS first victory during the Birds’ incredible 1989 campaign.
The Johnson & Johnson connection wasn’t the only inevitable comparison between the ’89 and ’12 O’s, as the cartoon birds, no name players and general disbelief of the respective campaigns was impossible to ignore. It even had me singing along…
8. What a dumb great trade.
SB Nation compiled reactions to GM Dan Duquette’s decision to deal SP Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for SP Jason Hammel & RP Matt Lindstrom before the season. Here are a sampling…
This from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was perhaps worse…
For what it’s worth, most of us would probably be forced to admit that we didn’t think much of the deal at the time. Guthrie had been the organization’s only quality pitcher for years and was very popular thanks to also being a stand up individual. How were we to know that Hammel was going to put together an All-Star season (when healthy) and Lindstrom would be a reliable option in the back of the bullpen before helping to land veteran Joe Saunders in a trade? And how were we to know that on the other end of the deal, Guthrie would implode in Denver before being sent to Kansas City?
Certainly the deal has turned out to be quite the feather in Duquette’s cap, as has the signing of SP Wei-Yin Chen-who has pitched to a 4.02 ERA and 1.261 WHIP over 32 starts? The only real question mark for Duquette has been Tsuyoshi Wada, who needed Tommy John surgery before he could make a pitch. The way things are going for this organization, you almost assume he’ll be Stephen Strasburg in 2013. (Okay…not really.)
7. I’m not so sure about this.
“Nick Markakis batting leadoff when he returns? I don’t know…”
I probably don’t need to show you August. Ah hell, I’ll show you August.
Markakis’ effort (before being sidelined in September) was especially crucial following the loss of OF Nolan Reimold, who hit .313 in 16 games to start the season in the role. Without Reimold, the Birds attempted to use a group of players including OF Endy Chavez and even briefly a return of 2B Brian Roberts, but none could hold down the role until Markakis. The Orioles are now hoping Markakis can somehow get back before the season ends.
6. These guys…of course!
While Hammel and Chen were obviously “hits” for the Orioles’ rotation, the other 60% didn’t pan out so well. Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta, former #1 overall pick Brian Matusz and veteran Tommy Hunter struggled mightily over the season’s first few months before ultimately finding their way back to the minors for seasoning (all have since returned and offered solid efforts out of the bullpen).
In their place, the Birds turned not only to the aforementioned Johnson, but more importantly gave the ball to two pitchers have provided a level of stability that could have been expected by absolutely no one, perhaps even themselves.
Chris Tillman was at least viewed recently as a significant prospect in the Orioles’ organization. After being acquired from the Seattle Mariners as part of the Birds’ haul (along with Adam Jones and George Sherrill) for Erik Bedard, there was a thought Tillman would ultimately prove to be part of the “cavalry” of young Orioles pitchers former VP of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail regularly spoke of.
But after 2009 (5.40 ERA 1.554 WHIP in 12 starts), 2010 (5.87 ERA 1.528 WHIP in 11 starts) and 2011 (5.52 ERA 1.645 WHIP in 13 starts), it appeared as though Tillman was all but done in Baltimore.
And then this happened.
Of course it did.
Perhaps even more improbable was Miguel Gonzalez, who was all but abandoned by the Boston Red Sox following 2009 Tommy John surgery. Executive Director of International Recruiting Fred Ferreira signed off on Gonzalez to the Birds after seeing him throw just nine pitches (according to SI’s Albert Chen). Perhaps we should have expected the man who discovered Vladimir Guerrero knew what he was doing.
And just like that, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez saved a rotation and very likely a season.
I feel like there’s someone else we should thank…
Of all of the decisions made by Dan Duquette upon arrival, perhaps the decision to make Rick Peterson (a fixture of the “Moneyball” Oakland Athletics) the team’s Director of Pitching Development has immediately paid the most dividends.
It goes without saying that Baltimore isn’t quite yet embracing this 2012 version of Baltimore Orioles pennant fever. No matter how dramatic the victories or how unlikely this late August run for postseason glory seems, nothing about The Birds has moved the sports fans of Maryland.
Even into the great beyond via the long reach of MASN – not to mention the reach into your pockets every month like a public utility – for whatever reason people aren’t coming back in droves to give King Peter Angelos their money to watch the likes of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and even boy wonder Manny Machado, who has been worth the price of admission alone this week.
Oh, I know I’m being “Negative Nestor” by even writing this blog when the Orioles are winning baseball games and on the verge of a sweep of the hated Boston Red Sox. But every time the TV cameras pan the more than half-empty stadium, I can’t help but thinking the same thing you’re thinking: “I wonder why people aren’t going to Camden Yards to support this winning team?”
Yeah, we all thought Camden Yards would be packed once the Orioles started winning. And as the team closes a 10-game homestand tonight in full control of a wild card berth and still within striking distance of the New York Yankees, a true “pennant fever” atmosphere has yet to emerge in Baltimore.
It seems that a few months of prosperity hasn’t wiped out 14 years of bad vibes, bad baseball, steroid needles, lies from the owner and the emergence of the Washington Nationals as the regional team with marketing legs and, dare we say, “Natitude.”
And here’s where we’ll piss off both side of the Baltimore fence.
I have one question for you: “Are you excited about the Baltimore Ravens’ upcoming season?”
My gut is that you just yelled, “YES!”
My gut also says that your neighbor is excited, your cousins, your co-workers, the folks in your social group – wherever your friends and loved ones reside — they’re ready to don purple and are counting down the minutes until the 7 p.m. kickoff on Monday, Sept. 10 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
I’m not sure when it became sort of fashionable to only support one of the two teams in Baltimore and perhaps for the younger generation there has never been a good time to embrace the Orioles. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ready for Ravens’ season and that my love for the purple guys has superseded my spirit and energy for the Orioles. But I do love them both. And I will support them both equally for what it means for Baltimore to have a winning sports team and a chance to hang red, white and blue bunting here in October.
And, somehow during this emergence of the purple birds of Baltimore since 1996, this weird kind of divide has occurred here in the Charm City where some folks only have enough “love” – if not dollars and time and energy – for one of the two teams.
Do you know people who love the Orioles and have no use for football or the Ravens? Almost to the point where they root against the purple birds in football season?
And, conversely, from what I can tell there are a myriad of people everywhere around town who are fervent Baltimore Ravens fans and have long-since given up following the Orioles on a nightly basis, even now that the team on the field is representative of the community’s desire for hard work, overachieving and beating the Yankees and Red Sox.
I don’t know anyone who has a basement that is an homage to the Orioles these days, despite the fact that you get 162 chances to enjoy games vs. just 16 that count.
I also admit that the amount of hours necessary to follow the Orioles is extraordinary. It’s a lifestyle commitment to watch four hours of baseball six nights a week for six months. It’s almost like a full-time job if you’re going to vest into MLB fandom.
And certainly this isn’t a new phenomenon for sports teams anywhere in America. It seems that there’s plenty of love for all four sports teams in places like Boston, Philadelphia, etc. where the seasons and the reasons all seem to blur together into a full calendar of activity and passion.
But it might be time to ask, “Where’s the emotional investment for Baltimore fans?”
Is it possible that you only have room in your heart — or wallet — for one successful local team?
If I understand the way the math works, the Baltimore Orioles’ magic number to clinch an American League Wild Card spot currently sits at 48.
I really felt the need to tell you that because for some goofy reason I sat and worked on it Sunday while I was supposed to be watching the Baltimore Ravens practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Congratulations Birds, you’ve successfully gotten me to take attention away from the Ravens and place it on the orange and black. The moment has actually occurred. I’m blown away.
The magic number is 48.
That means that if the total combination of O’s wins combined with losses (individually) from any other team in the Wild Card race reaches 48 before the end of the season the now 15 year playoff draught will officially be over.
It means the Birds will be playing on Friday, October 5 as part of Major League Baseball’s first ever Wild Card play-in games.
I honest to God can’t believe I’ve just typed all of this.
It’s time to cue the music.
I feel like it’s safe to say that I’ve been as reluctant (if not more reluctant) than anyone in town to accept this as an actual, realistic possibility. And if truth me told I would still say “no” if an assailant questioned my belief that the Orioles make the playoffs with a gun pointed to my temple.
It might seem like a four game split with the Kansas City Royals at home would be an odd time for me to suddenly stand and pledge allegiance to the “Why Not?” bandwagon, but…you know…Machado and all.
My original idea for my weekly “Reality Check” column was to write about the realities of 3B Manny Machado’s hot start (6-16, 3HR, 7RBI in four games). I had planned to say “I hate to be the bad guy, but let’s remember that the most likely scenario is that Machado won’t be able to continue this success for the rest of the season or likely even for the rest of August.”
I had intended to say something along the lines of “American League pitchers will likely end up catching up with Machado, who also won’t have the benefit of facing Kansas City Royals pitching every time out.” I was going to add thoughts along the lines of “let’s not forget that even OF Xavier Avery collected 10 hits in his first eight games after getting called up to Baltimore earlier in the season.”
I probably would have mentioned that in the coming week Machado would have to go up against veteran pitchers like Red Sox starters Josh Beckett (albeit a Beckett that has struggled mightily in 2012) and Clay Buchholz as well as reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. It’s a bit more legitimate than a group of KC starters that included Will Smith, Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen.
I also think I would have mentioned that Machado had not hit .300 in a single month while playing in the Eastern League this season, making a market correction from a very hot start to August seem likely at some point.
That’s what I WAS going to do. But for some reason, it just didn’t stick.
As we’ve repeated ad nauseum during the 2012 Orioles campaign, there is no statistical explanation for why the Birds have won 62 of their first 115 games. Those of us who have been watching understand that the team has benefitted from an incredible bullpen, a number of home runs, great success in close games and expert guidance from AL Manager of the Year candidate Buck Showalter.
That’s why I couldn’t write the Machado column. I didn’t have it in me.
Maybe there IS a chance Machado can continue to make significant contributions as a 20 year old in a lineup that has been seeking an additional spark. The Birds don’t have a full season .300 hitter in their lineup, but they’ve managed to get continued contributions from unexpected places.
Career journeyman INF Omar Quintanilla is batting .328 in just 20 games sense being acquired in a deal with the New York Mets. Veteran (and by “veteran” I mean “washed up”) OF Nate McClouth has eight hits in his first 24 AB’s since being called up from the Norfolk Tides. Even the miserable bat of Mark Reynolds (.211 and just nine home runs in 289 AB’s) provided what proved to be the game winning RBI in Sunday’s win over KC.
I don’t think it can be sustained. I didn’t think it could be sustained two months ago. I was wrong then. Maybe I’m wrong now. I don’t think I’m ever going to understand exactly how all of this has happened this way this season.
So can Manny Machado keep contributing to an Orioles team pushing towards an appearance in the postseason?
I hypothetically asked the question a few weeks ago on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net.
“If the Baltimore Orioles are able to remain in the postseason hunt into September, will it have any impact at all on how you watch/support the Baltimore Ravens in September?”
I pointed out at the time that the two teams did not have games scheduled at the same time at all during September. (The Ravens’ Week 1 Monday night and Week 4 Thursday night primetime home games come on scheduled off days for the Birds. The Week 2 game at Philadelphia is scheduled for 1pm while the O’s are scheduled to play after 4 in Oakland. The Ravens’ Week 3 game also happens in primetime while the Birds take the field in Boston at 1pm.) There would be no direct conflict unless there is a weather related reschedule, or possibly if the Orioles were to make the postseason.
The truth is that there is no basis for comparison when it comes to how Charm City sports fans would treat this short crossover period. The Orioles’ last run to the postseason came in 1997, before the Ravens had captured the collective imaginations, hearts and back accounts of the Mid-Atlantic region’s sports fans. If we date back to the time when the Baltimore Colts and Orioles shared the city; mass media consumption, television coverage and big business of sports were incomparable to 2012.
Reaction to the question was quite varied. Some fans said they wouldn’t change any priorities related to the Ravens because football simply had become more significant to them. Other fans said they couldn’t imagine making any early season football game a priority while the Orioles were in pursuit of their first playoff appearance in a decade and a half. Still others thought it impossible to think that they would have to alter the way they paid attention to or supported either franchise, stating that other cities (namely Boston and New York) have never appeared to struggle with the same problem.
For many, the topic remains the elephant in the room. It might actually happen, they just don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather say things like “let’s just see if the Orioles can hold up their end of the bargain.” The Orioles however took the opportunity Wednesday to remind you that not only does the elephant exist, it’s an actual f*cking elephant.
Perhaps the Baltimore Orioles’ decision to purchase the contract of Bowie Baysox INF (and former first round pick) Manny Machado and allow him to make his MLB debut Thursday night has nothing to do with the fact that the Ravens are opening the preseason against the Falcons in Atlanta.
Of course, perhaps the correlation is absolutely purposeful.
Perhaps the Orioles wanted to take a strike against the pro sports team in town whose success has relegated them to “orange-headed stepchild” status 364 days a year (yes, I’m giving the Birds Opening Day. Nothing more.)
Perhaps members of the Orioles organization had a conversation this week about the lackluster attendance figures at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the three games against the Seattle Mariners and said “this is probably going to be worse Thursday since fans will want to stay home and watch the football game. Let’s try to combat that somehow.”
Perhaps Peter Angelos (well…probably not Old Man Angelos but someone he allows to advise him and/or make decisions) is still pissed off about the Ravens’ Facebook jab from Opening Day and decided they wanted to put a dent in the football team’s television ratings-which will likely already be hurt by the fact that the game had to be moved from WBAL to WMAR and will be going up against the NBC affiliate’s continued Olympics coverage.
Perhaps there’s still bitterness for how the teams’ MASN-fueled relationship fell apart in 2010 and the Orioles wanted to flex their muscles a little bit to remind the Ravens they’re now working a network (Comcast SportsNet) that has clearly made the Washington Redskins a greater priority over the last two seasons.
Perhaps the Orioles are hoping they can play off the small bit of fan angst created when the Ravens ended their Westminster Training Camp tradition and win the hearts of young sports fans who are angry they can’t get autographs at McDaniel College. Perhaps they’re hoping to steal back part of an already small market that has partially abandoned the Orange and Black.
With the Orioles good start and them being five games above .500 at the all-star break, fans should have high expectations for the second half. But will the O’s make the playoffs? In order for that to happen there must be a few things that take place.
The Orioles have had several names swirling around as possible trade acquisitions, Greinke and Garza headline the list. The current rotation is not getting the job done for the Orioles and there is a definite need for another strong starter in the rotation to compliment Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel. If the Orioles go shopping it can’t be after a mediocre pitcher, it needs to be a big name player who can win games against Boston, Tampa, and those pesky Yankees. With the Orioles lineup it shouldn’t take much but our hitting has been known to take an off day all too often, meaning this new pitcher will need to be a guy who can shutdown the AL East. I said it before and I will say it again, if the club wants fans to be satisfied, the Orioles need to make a big deal. It’s split 50/50 between fans who are willing to give up a good prospect such as Machado. In my opinion if the Orioles make the playoffs this year they have as good of a shot to win the World Series as any team in there IF they get a good third starter. With that being said, Machado for Greinke makes all the sense in the world to me, I’m all for it.
For the Orioles to make the playoffs, it is very important that fans come out and support the team. I’m sick of Orioles fans complaining about having a losing record and then not going out to Camden Yards to be there when the team is above .500 at the break. For a team that is in the playoff hunt half way through the season, averaging 21st in attendance in just unacceptable. I have done my part and have been to 12 games, I didn’t even land in America until May 11th from London. Doesn’t everyone want there to be no more Yankees and Sox fans at Camden Yards. The easiest solution is buy the tickets so their annoying fans don’t get to say “Lets Go Yankees!”
Finally the last key to the Orioles making the playoffs this season is to stay healthy. With Reimold not a factor and Roberts flirting with injuries, again, and Markakis coming back this weekend, there is a desperate need for ALL players to stay healthy. The pieces are there: Jones, Wieters, Thome, Davis, Hardy, Betemit, and the rest of the team has what it takes to make the playoffs. The question is will it all stay together? If it does, Camden Yards should host its first playoff game since 1997, I was there and I was six years old. The money jar couldn’t be more full with playoff ticket funds, lets hope I get to use it this year.
I was in Paris when the Baltimore Orioles’ trade for veteran DH Jim Thome became official and didn’t get much of a chance to opine about it. My guess is that I would have politely said something along the lines of “sure, Jim Thome is better than no one, but is a part time DH with little left in the tank really going to make much of a difference?”
I’m glad I didn’t have the chance to say that. Boy would there be egg all over my face.
Thome has come to the plate in six of the Birds’ eight games since being acquired. He’s managed to collect five hits (all singles), score a run and drive in another. He’s also walked four times and struck out 11 times. He’s been far from terrible since arriving, but hasn’t really made much of a difference in the lineup either. The O’s have won three of the eight games they’ve played since acquiring Thome and enter the All-Star break without scoring a run over their last 21 innings.
The Birds finished the first half of the season with a 45-40 record, good enough for 2nd place in the AL East and currently holding what would be the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The troubling part is that over their last 19 games before the break, they compiled a 6-13 record and averaged scoring less than three runs per game during the stretch.
I don’t want to seem like I’m taking the Orioles’ pitchers off the hook during the stretch. The team allowed nearly 5.5 runs per game during the same stretch, demoting starting pitchers Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta to AAA Norfolk in the process.
I’ll stop short of labeling the stretch “a disaster” for the Birds, but I’ll admit that I went through about ten minutes of inner monologue before I decided the term would be unfair.
I’m not particularly mad at Thome for not lighting the world on fire during his first week with the Orioles. It would be unfair to expect any player to become a serious catalyst in just one week, but there was absolutely zero reason to expect a soon to be 42 year old who hasn’t put up particularly good offensive numbers since 2008 to be the one to do it.
The truth is that the Thome acquisition is going to bug me until the Orioles decide they want to acquire players who are actually good.
I know WNST.net’s Drew Forrester said Sunday the Birds “had better” make moves to upgrade the team before the July 31 trade deadline. My column today isn’t just an echo of Forrester’s sentiments. My column is much more particular.
I’ve said for some time that the Birds cannot view their start to the 2012 season as a sign that they’re on the cusp of turning the page. There simply is not enough evidence of that being the case. There is significantly more evidence of the Birds experiencing good fortune thanks to a couple of nice pieces (OF Adam Jones, C Matt Wieters and P’s Jason Hammel & Jim Johnson notably) and an element of luck via injuries to rival teams.
I’m certainly not backing off of those statements. The start of the 2012 season is in NO WAYS a sign that the Birds’ “rebuilding” plan has worked, or that former executive Andy MacPhail and current GM Dan Duquette have put together a group of players that are just a year away from reaching greatness. The reality is that there just aren’t enough good players either currently at the Major League level or set to reach the majors in the next year or two to suggest the team will be able to win for more than half a season.
The players I mentioned before (Jones, Wieters, Hammel, Johnson) are good players. Unfortunately, that’s about where the list ends. OF Nick Markakis and SS JJ Hardy are supposed to be good players. SP Wei-Yin Chen and RP Pedro Strop have showed signs that they might be good players. P Dylan Bundy and SS Manny Machado are believed to be good players for the future. Thome and 2B Brian Roberts USED to be good players. 3B Mark Reynolds and 1B Chris Davis (or is that 1B Mark Reynolds and OF Chris Davis?) are players you want to believe are good but you know better.