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Seven Orioles players to watch closely during spring training

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Seven Orioles players to watch closely during spring training

Posted on 11 February 2014 by Luke Jones

The start of spring training will inevitably bring a new batch of clichéd stories about players being in the best shape of their lives or feeling poised for career seasons, but the Orioles will need several players to emerge from the shadows to continue the momentum started over the last two seasons.

After a disappointing offseason that has featured no impact signings or significant acquisitions at this late stage, manager Buck Showalter must look from within the current roster for solutions to hopefully bring the Orioles a third consecutive winning season, a modest achievement they haven’t realized in 20 years (1992 through 1994).

The Orioles face uncertainty in the starting rotation and in the back end of the bullpen as well as at second base, designated hitter, and left field, making this spring’s workouts in Sarasota as important as any in recent memory. However, most answers won’t truly come until the regular season when Baltimore is thrown back into the reality of competing in the heavyweight American League East.

Here are seven players (with their 2013 stats noted in parentheses) to watch closely over the next six weeks before the Orioles break camp ahead of Opening Day on March 31:

7. 2B Ryan Flaherty (.221, 10 HR, 27 RBI, .683 OPS)

The opinions on the 27-year-old Flaherty have been polarizing in his brief major league career with plenty of good (16 home runs in 438 plate appearances and strong defense) and bad (a 12-for-90 start to 2013 that landed him at Triple-A Norfolk in May) over the last two years. However, the former Rule 5 pick appears to be the favorite to replace Brian Roberts as the starting second baseman and hit .276 with an impressive .812 OPS in 156 at-bats after being recalled from the Tides in late May. As we saw early last season, Flaherty’s defense alone gives him a long leash in Showalter’s eyes, but the Orioles hope he finally finds consistency at the plate with no established veteran in the mix as a serious threat.

6. OF/DH Henry Urrutia (.276, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .586 OPS)

The Cuban defector was the toast of the Orioles’ farm system last season as he raked at both Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk — hitting .347 with 31 extra-base hits between the two levels — before being called up to the majors in late July. All but one of Urrutia’s 16 hits with the Orioles were singles, but far too many have written off the 27-year-old while overlooking how tumultuous the last couple years were for him in simply trying to get to the United States, let alone immediately thrive in professional baseball. There’s no question that Urrutia needs to hit for more power to stick, but nearly 20 extra pounds and a full offseason to hone his craft make this spring an interesting one for him as the Orioles are still unsettled at the designated hitter spot.

5. LHP Zach Britton (2-3, 4.95 ERA, 1.725 WHIP)

This year is likely to be Britton’s last chance with the Orioles as he’s out of options and coming off his second consecutive underwhelming season in which he pitched poorly in 40 major league innings and posted an unimpressive 4.27 ERA at Norfolk. Britton walked too many hitters and didn’t miss enough bats (striking out just 4.1 per nine innings), but the fifth starter job is open for now and the fact that other contenders such as Kevin Gausman and Steve Johnson have remaining options gives the 26-year-old lefty a slight edge in the race. His 5-1 start as a rookie in 2011 feels like an eternity ago, but Britton has no better chance but this spring to show Showalter and new pitching coach Dave Wallace that he’s finally figured everything out.

4. OF/DH Delmon Young (.260, 11 HR, 38 RBI, .715 OPS combined with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay)

One of the few players the Orioles signed this offseason who has significant major league experience, the 28-year-old Young agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training and figures to have a good chance to make the club as the right-handed designated hitter. He carries off-field baggage to go along with uneven performance over the last three years, but the No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 draft is a career .303 hitter with an .812 OPS against left-handed pitchers in his career. It was only 2010 when Young had a career season by hitting .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBIs, but the Orioles simply hope he can be part of the answer in a possible DH platoon situation.

3. LF David Lough (.286, 5 HR, 33 RBI, .724 OPS with Kansas City)

The Orioles spent much of the winter talking up Lough’s potential and there’s no doubting his above-average defensive ability, but whether he can handle the starting job in left field remains to be seen. A younger and cheaper version of Nate McLouth, Lough slugged a decent .413 but walked only 10 times in 335 plate appearances with the Royals last season, which isn’t something you’d like to see given the Orioles’ poor on-base percentage as a team in 2013. The 28-year-old hit .292 against southpaw pitchers last season, which bodes well for his chances to play every day, but the Orioles really would have benefited from a substantial upgrade at the position instead of a poor man’s version of McLouth, who wasn’t exactly a world-beater in 2013.

2. 3B Manny Machado (.283, 14 HR, 71 RBI, .746 OPS)

It remains to be seen how much the 21-year-old will play this spring — if at all — as he continues his rehabilitation from knee surgery, but his recovery is critical to not just the 2014 season but the future of the franchise. The Orioles need to be careful in easing Machado back to baseball, but it will be interesting to see if the winter disrupts his progress as a player after some of his flaws at the plate were exposed late last season. As good as he is at such a young age, Machado needs to show more patience at the plate (only 38 walks in 912 career plate appearances) and hit only .239 in the final three months of last season, making his late-season knee injury that much more frustrating in robbing him of the ability to simply hone his craft this winter.

1. RHP Kevin Gausman (3-5, 5.66 ERA, 1.343 WHIP)

For all the discussion about the Orioles failing to land an established veteran starter to anchor the rotation, the 2012 first-round pick taking a giant step forward would be a major shot in the arm to the back end of the rotation. Gausman’s blazing fastball and split-change are plus pitches, but the 23-year-old needs a better feel for a third pitch to give himself the best chance to succeed as a starter. Regardless of where he’s playing, Gausman needs to be pitching every fifth day to develop and should not be in the bullpen as he was in the second half last season. Baltimore hopes that some added bulk to his 6-foot-3 frame will put the righty over the top physically and allow him to put things together quickly at the major league level.

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Machado ahead of schedule in recovery from knee surgery

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Machado ahead of schedule in recovery from knee surgery

Posted on 17 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Even with an underwhelming offseason that’s raised concerns among their fans, the Orioles received good news Thursday that could impact the start of the 2014 season.

According to local reports, third baseman Manny Machado is six to eight weeks ahead of schedule in rehabbing his surgically-repaired left knee after being examined by Los Angeles Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache in California. The advanced progress could leave the 21-year-old with a good chance of being ready for Opening Day when Baltimore hosts the world champion Boston Red Sox on March 31.

Machado underwent surgery on Oct. 13 after injuring his knee during a Sept. 23 game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. He is expected to arive in Sarasota ahead of the scheduled report date of Feb. 13 for pitchers and catchers.

Manager Buck Showalter has said that Machado will likely need to begin playing in spring games by the middle of March in order to have a real chance to be ready for the season opener.

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In honor of the first Tuesday Top 7 of 2014, Drew Forrester and Luke Jones of The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction selected their top seven local sports figures to watch in 2014.

Some of the names are predictable while others may just be establishing themselves on the local sports scene, but each is worth following closely in 2014 for different reasons.

To listen to Jones’ full explanation for his list, click HERE. Forrester’s breakdown of his seven names can be found HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014 …

7. Towson running back and NFL Draft prospect Terrance West
west
Skinny: Not only will the FCS record-breaking back be drafted, but it will be fun to watch his progress and to see how his skills translate to the next level.

6. Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs
diggs
Skinny: Questions will linger about the Terps’ ability to compete in the Big Ten, but a breakout 2014 campaign would likely have the offensive playmaker thinking carefully about the NFL.

5. Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman
gausman
Skinny: Assuming the Orioles’ offseason continues at its current pace, the 23-year-old right-hander’s development will be critical in determining whether the club remains in contention.

4. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
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Skinny: The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year may have already played his final game in Baltimore if he’s not willing to adjust his $12.4 million salary cap number for the 2014 season.

3. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado
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Skinny: Coming off knee surgery and entering just his second full season in the majors, the 21-year-old will be counted on to not only be healthy but to take his already-impressive game to the next level.

2. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
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Skinny: The spotlight on the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player will be brighter than ever after a disappointing 2013 season and considering his cap number balloons to $14.8 million in 2014.

1. Orioles manager Buck Showalter
buck
Skinny: After two poor offseasons in a row, does the Baltimore skipper reach his breaking point with an organization lacking the commitment to build on its recent success?

CONTINUE FOR DREW FORRESTER’S TOP 7 LOCAL SPORTS FIGURES TO WATCH IN 2014 >>>>>

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Markakis GG 2013

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GOLD GLOVE AWARD COMMITS ERRORS

Posted on 12 November 2013 by Tom Federline

The Orioles became the best defensive club in a major league season this past year. They were “charged” with 54 errors – pretty impressive. At times during the year, the Orioles fielding prowess was the only thing worth watching when tuning into the O’s. But did they really establish a new record? How many full games or parts of games did you see this year? I’ll say, I saw parts of 50%. Of that 50%, I saw at least 15+ errors that were never charged (not all on the Orioles). Whatever happened to – “If it hits the glove and you do not make a play – it’s an error”? Whatever happened to – “If you throw the ball and it is not within 5 feet of the intended player – it is a throwing error”? You have to wonder who or what entity controls the “official scorer”.

The Orioles were awarded 3 Gold Gloves for 2013. In my book, the total number of 3 was right. It’s just that I thought 2 out of the 3 were wrong. Those awarded: a) Machado – a no brainer, he deserved it. b) JJ Hardy – solid and reliable, shades of Cal – when the ball is hit to him, 98% of the time a guaranteed out. Quite refreshing. c) Adam Jones – one of the best. Two things benefited Jones this past year: 1. No one else really came close to playing as many games in centerfield this year, thus he had the most chances and 2. Jones fell into the category of “not being charged with” errors when I saw at least 5 errors he committed early in the year. A few rebuttals here were that Yunel Escober of the Tampa Bay Rays committed the least amount of errors at SS and had close to the same amount of chances as Hardy. Mike Trout (LA Angels), 1 error in center (not as many chances as Jones though) And the Tampa Bay Rays in general – they ended up with the second best defensive stats in the Major League but were awarded no gold glove winners.

The 2 obvious Orioles that were overlooked were Chris Davis and Nick Markakis. Wieters also proved a nice case for himself. Chris Davis committed fewer errors than Eric Hosmer (winner with KC), while tallying approximately the same number of games played and chances. The glaring atrocity of the GG Awards this past year was that the best right fielder in baseball (American and National Leagues) was spurned again. Nick Markakis played the most games of any right fielder (AL), had the most chances of any right fielder (AL) and was charged with ZERO errors. That’s right people, a 1.000 fielding percentage and he does not win the Gold Glove. Can you say “fix”? The GG Award is supposedly voted on by managers and coaches……are they blind, ignorant or bought? Wait-a-minute, they did add another supposed measurable component this year – Sabermetrics (SABR). In our misguided world of Information Technology and everything must be measured by numbers – a group of geek numbnuts who have probably never stepped onto a baseball field, came up with some sort of indexing of defensive stats. SABR this! Once again, no “Respect” – (Aretha Franklin) for Nick. It’s wrong, man. Just all wrong.

Shane Victorino (Boston – need I say more), was the recipient of the tainted
GG glove in right field for the American League. I am not going to go through every position in the American League – I do not have to. There is enough evidence with just the Oriole players that have been mentioned. The Gold Glove Award became a joke when Cal Jr. was spurned many a time throughout his career due to the “flashy” Omar Vizquel. And then of course there was the infamous Rafeal Palmeiro incident of 1999, when he played 28 games at first base and WON the Gold Glove. Paleease people, was the selection committee also on steroids?

The Gold Glove Award – an award that you hope a true dedicated baseball player would covet. An award that should be the reflection of an acquired high skill level that all started with a glove, a ball and a wall. An award you hope could not be tainted. Unfortunately it has been. It is a shame that the selection committee for a prestigious award commits obvious errors when near perfection should be rewarded.

Enough, let’s end on a positive…….. at least the Baltimore Orioles were recognized. Kudos to Machado, Hardy and Jones – they earned it. They are in the upper echelon in fielding at their position. The Baltimore Orioles are blessed with great defensive talent at almost every position. We the fans are the beneficiaries. The past few years it has seemed like old school – glimpses of the Oriole way.
GO O’s. T-minus around 106 days until the beginning of Preseason baseball. Lookout Sarasota.

D.I.Y.
FEDMAN

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Machado wins American League Platinum Glove award

Posted on 09 November 2013 by WNST Staff

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).

 

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Machado wins first ever Fielding Bible Award

Posted on 03 November 2013 by WNST Staff

2013 Fielding Bible Awards

Six First-Time Winners/Three Repeat Winners

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

Second Base – Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

Third Base – Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Shortstop – Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves

Left Field – Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

Center Field – Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers

Right Field – Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks

Catcher – Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

Pitcher – R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays

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Schoop new 2b 9-25-13

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Orioles Disappoint Down Stretch

Posted on 27 September 2013 by Tom Federline

It was Saturday August 24th, O’s vs. A’s, 4:05 game time. Beautiful August late afternoon/early evening, the heat of the day was cooling off, sun was out, partly cloudy, Camden Yards at it’s finest. Perfect size crowd of around 25,000 – the real Orioles fans. O’s lost 2 – 1 on a HR by the A’s in the 9th. I watched the O’s dugout the whole game. Lifeless. No cheering. No banter. No sign of competitiveness. Baseball players just going though the motions. Only person offering any sign of encouragement to his teammates was Weiters. It was half-way through that game – my Orioles season ended. It was apparent – NO Oriole Magic in that clubhouse – discouraging.

It seemed throughout the whole season you were just waiting for the O’s to break out. Put that 10 game winning streak together. Leave the Yankee cheaters and the Tampa Bay “fake indoor baseball guys” in their own steroid dust. Get even with the Red Sux for a division crown run. It never happened. What consistently happened was bullpen/closer breakdown and lack of clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. A complete 180 from last year – discouraging.

What can we hope for? Gold Glove recognition! My votes – 1. Some young guy at third, think his name is Manny Mucho Machado? 2. Markakis. 3.Weiters. 4. Davis. 5. Jason Pridie. No Adam Jones – I saw at least 6 errors by him in the first 2 months of the season and he was charged with only one. I believe he has been charged with a total of 2 for the year, yeah right. Jones is good, but he is not the best center fielder in the American league. The Defense was outstanding this past year. Potential record breaking (if Buck-Buck would stop playing the minor leaguers). Reminded me of the O’s golden years in the late 60′s, early 70′s. Machado continuously amazed. If he doesn’t walk away with the award at third………..you know what I’m going to say….The Fix is on. O’s defense – encouraging.

What can we hope for? Thank you, Brian Roberts – but it’s time to go away. Out with the old – in with the new. And it looks like we have new! Get used to hearing this song at the Yards – “Shoop” by Salt N’ Pepa. The song is horrible, but it has a nice reprise/riff. and that’s all we need to hear when the next Future Hall of Famer, Jonathan Schoop come up to bat. Yeah, I’m calling another one. Looks like the O’s have a new second basemen in town and he came from down on our own farm. I don’t know the correct pronunciation of whether it’s (scope), (Scoop) or (shoop). He will always be Shoop, shoop, shoop, da woop to me. Brace yourself gang, I have seen him play in the minors, he’s a baseball player. Now can he hang with the big boys? O’s new 2nd baseman -encouraging.

What can we hope for? MASN and the Orioles FIRE Gary “Thorn in our Side”. What is sadder than his ignorance of the sport and irritating chatter, is the that some O’s/MASN numbnut(s) a. hired him and b. continually renew his contract. Take a clip of 10 minutes from any game and I’ll bet you “Thorn in our side” will screw up a call, incorrectly describe what is happening on the field, call out the wrong count, team, player and the worst of it all…..makes the call for the opposing team with greater enthusiasm than for the Orioles. I just do not understand his presence in a baseball broadcast booth. I have heard him do bowling once and I even had to turn that off. As you know, when I have the chance to watch the game, I mute the TV and listen to the radio. Sometimes on the weekend we are given a reprieve with Jim Hunter and Mike Bordick. The Baltimore area is blessed with Joe Angel and Fred Manfra on the radio end. Now there is talent and entertainment – encouraging.

The Orioles have succeeded in finishing with a second straight winning season. We haven’t experienced that in awhile. Expectations were high. They had a shot. No closer threat and losing as opposed to winning those 1-run games was the difference. Need a different atmosphere in the clubhouse. Bring Kevin Millar back. Buck-Buck needs to stop allowing them to go down into the tunnel and back into the locker room for the buffet table, cell phone texting or tweeting or whatever else they do down there. Get them on the bench with their teammates in the dugout. For a minimum of $15,000/night – they can refrain from pampering themselves. Team unity – discouraging.

Disappointing outcome of what seemingly was a promising year. They are close – just need to find the right “nuggets”. Right Buck-Buck? Orioles need a couple more “gold nuggets” to compete in the east. Preferably ones with powerful right or left arms. Get those nuggets and O’s 2014 – encouraging!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Machado expected to be ready for spring after suffering minor ligament tear

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Machado expected to be ready for spring after suffering minor ligament tear

Posted on 24 September 2013 by WNST Staff

The Orioles and their fans breathed a collective sigh of relief Tuesday as it appears that 21-year-old third baseman Manny Machado has avoided a catastrophic injury to his knee.

Though the young infielder will receive a second opinion, the diagnosis by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens was that Machado suffered only a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee when he stepped awkwardly on first base in the seventh inning of the series finale against the Rays on Monday. A magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed no damage to the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments despite fears that suggested otherwise upon witnessing the gruesome-looking injury.

It is believed that Machado will not need surgery and will be sidelined for six to eight weeks before he can begin light running. That timetable would put him on track to be ready for spring training in February, which is excellent news for the All-Star third baseman and the Orioles, who have all but been eliminated from postseason consideration but entered Tuesday only one victory away from their second consecutive winning season.

The third overall pick in the 2010 draft, Machado hit .283 with 14 home runs, 51 doubles, and 71 runs batted in in his first full season in the big leagues this year and was selected to his first All-Star Game in July.

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Second half expectations for the Orioles

Posted on 20 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

Lately, the Orioles have been playing good baseball. Chen has returned as the team’s most consistent pitcher and the offense keeps on producing. If the Orioles want to make a serious postseason run, the offense must continue to produce but the bullpen must improve.

The one position of need for the Orioles is the designated hitter. On the season, the designated hitter has not produced for the O’s. Hitters in that position have managed to hit a meager .197 average.

Before the All-Star break, the series against the Blue Jays was a microcosm of the first half for designated hitters wearing an Orioles jersey. Ryan Flaherty, Nolan Reimold, and Chris Dickerson managed only one hit and struck out eight times. These three players also left five men on base. Four of these base runners were stranded in the lone loss to Toronto, which was a winnable game, had the DH performed better.

Now, unless you have been living under a rock in Baltimore, you know what the Orioles have recently done to improve that position. Over the All-Star break, Henry Urrutia was called up from Triple A-Norfolk. The 26-year-old Cuban sensation will be expected to come in and produce right away seeing as he is starting tonight against the Texas Rangers.

At Norfolk and Bowie, Urrutia hit a combined .356 average to go along with seven home runs and 43 RBI.

This is yet another great sign for the start of the second half.

The Orioles All-Stars, especially Manny Machado, had great performances in the All-Star game. Secondly, they won last night! Chen went 6 and one-third innings, allowing eight hits and just one earned run.

Whenever Chen is pitching, he always gives the Orioles a chance to win. He doesn’t get anxious on the mound and he eats up innings. Scott Feldman was brought in as another starter for the same purpose. He has made three starts since he was acquired and has a 5.79 ERA. In his last outing against the Blue Jays, Feldman went seven and one third innings. In those innings, he gave up three earned runs off five hits while striking out seven batters.

If Feldman can continue pitching like he has against the Blue Jays and White Sox, the Orioles chances of making a postseason run increases.

While the Orioles can make the playoffs, I won’t have much faith in their chances of making a run. Their closing situation has surprisingly become an issue and their bullpen has struggled the entire season. Their offense is great but elite pitchers can shut them down and I don’t have faith that the bullpen could keep games close.

On the other hand, the Orioles have shown they can be supremely poised and clutch. There is something about this team that also makes me think they can overcome their pitching deficiencies. The only major obstacle for this team is the closing role. Jim Johnson has a lot of saves this season but has really struggled of late. If Johnson performs, the sky is the limit for the Orioles.

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Baltimore-related Observations from the ASG

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Baltimore-related Observations from the ASG

Posted on 17 July 2013 by Brett Dickinson

The Mid-Summer Classic has passed and as we all expected, was somewhat of a dud.  Though watching four Orioles participate (and one in Chris Tillman watch from the bullpen) is nice for Baltimore, a 3-0 victory for the AL, giving up only three hits, was kind of a bore for the average baseball fan.  But there are some things to take away from the festivities and the game itself.

This is my four Baltimore-related observations from the All-Star Break:

 

1.  The Orioles are a very close knit team.

This was never more evident than watching rival Detroit Tiger (and resident big man), Prince Fielder leg out a triple.  This GIF says it all (seen here), as the three Orioles starters are seen in the dugout chucking it up; not sure if they were laughing with or at Prince, but he didn’t seem to mind.

But if you go back to Chris Davis’ Home Run Derby performance, Adam Jones was there to support him (and wipe his forehead).  These players just seem to really like hanging out with each other; which can only make Buck’s job that much easier.  This fun-loving group of young stars should be entertaining to watch for several years.

 

2. Manny Machado may have been the best defensive player on either roster.

There have been rare moments when a defensive play was the defining moment of the game (Tori Hunter robbing Barry Bonds comes to mind), especially with the amount of power bats each lineup throws out.  Yet, Manny wowed both benches (and all of Twitter) with his snag, deep in the third base hole, to rob Paul Goldschmidt of a base hit (seen here).

The play had shades of his “Web-Gem” from Yankee Stadium a week and a half ago; but considering the moment, it actually may be more impressive.  Orioles’ fans have been watching his fantastic leather and arm for almost a full season, but now the entire baseball world was able to bear witness.

 

3. Baseball is in good hands with its young players.

As already mentioned, Manny Machado stole the show defensively, but other youngsters like: Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez and Mike Trout also shined.  That core of players (all under 25 years old) could be ambassadors for the game for years to come.  Harvey embraced the moment, as the NL starter and host, while displaying his infectious personality during his Jimmy Fallon skit.

Trout has already been widely regarded as one of the best all-around players in baseball, while Machado inserted himself into the conversation with his first-half performance.  The blend of fielding and plate discipline the two display may be unparalleled, come 20 years from now.  Fernandez also dominated in a tough game for the NL, while all of them acted with maturity beyond their years; on and off the field.

Now only if MLB could get Bryce Harper to grow the hell up (nice hair bro!).

 

4. Mariano Rivera is the most respected player in the MLB, since Cal Ripken.

In “Mo’s” last All-Star game, his renowned respect was clearly evident; the players gave him a touching moment on the field by himself, when he came into the game in the 8th (seen here).  The whole game was about Rivera and he was going to win the MVP, as long as he threw one pitch in the game.  The entire display had shades of Cal’s last Mid-Summer Classic; where Alex Rodriquez and Joe Torre forced him to play shortstop and he had that shining-moment home run off Chan Ho Park.

Players in the MLB, no matter the generation, seem to always have an understanding for greatness.  Watching legends, like Ripken and Rivera, receive amazing ovations (as only two players to win the All-Star MVP in their final season) is what makes baseball such a tremendous sport.

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