Tag Archive | "Mark Reynolds"

Orioles interested in bringing back Reynolds?

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Orioles interested in bringing back Reynolds?

Posted on 08 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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In what figured to be a slow news day for the Orioles as they travel to San Francisco to begin a three-game series with the Giants on Friday night, the sudden availability of an old friend has sparked debate about a potential reunion.

Cleveland Indians infielder Mark Reynolds has been designated for assignment in what’s been a difficult 2013 season, leaving many to wonder if the former Orioles slugger would be a good fit as the right-handed designated hitter option the lineup has lacked all year. Of course, the Indians are in the midst of their own pennant race and don’t view Reynolds as a viable contributor as he’s hit just .215 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs, with much of that production coming over the first five weeks of the season when he got off to a hot start with his new club. His .680 on-base plus slugging percentage is a career worst by a significant margin.

According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the Orioles are interested in Reynolds if Cleveland can secure trade waivers on him, which would be necessary since the non-waiver trade deadline has passed. After a club designates a player, it has 10 days to either trade, release, or place him on waivers in hopes of outrighting the player to the minor leagues.

Since May 7, Reynolds has hit .179 with five home runs and 21 RBIs and has posted an abysmal .532 OPS while striking out 96 times in 267 plate appearances. Always known to be a streaky hitter as many Orioles fans can frustratingly recall, the Indians finally gave up after a three-month slump in which he’s been relegated to the bench for poor play.

The Orioles’ struggles at the DH spot are well documented this season as the position has produced a .210 average with 16 home runs, 46 RBIs, and a .389 slugging percentage, numbers not terribly different from what Reynolds brought to the Indians this year. Rookie Henry Urrutia has been the most recent to receive an opportunity as the DH against right-handed pitching, but he’s shown little power potential while hitting .273 in 44 plate appearances.

Switch-hitting veteran Wilson Betemit began a minor-league rehab assignment earlier this week, but he would only make sense as a DH option against right-handed pitching with his well-documented deficiencies against left-handers.

Currently, outfielder Steve Pearce and catcher Taylor Teagarden are the only right-handed bats off the bench, but a corner infielder wouldn’t provide as much defensive versatility as Pearce. This season, Reynolds is hitting .215 with six homers and 20 RBIs while posting a .745 OPS against southpaws.

Reynolds signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Indians last winter after the Orioles expressed no interest in retaining his services — declining an $11 million club option before eventually non-tendering him — but the 30-year-old was popular in the clubhouse and may feel revitalized returning to Baltimore where he expressed a preference to stay at the end of last season.

His numbers are alarmingly trending in the wrong direction this year after what was already an underwhelming 2012 season with the Orioles, but if he’s simply a waiver claim or the Indians would simply send him Baltimore’s way for cash considerations or a no-name minor leaguer, it might be worth the gamble that Reynolds can get hot for some portion of the final two months of the season.

But if the asking price is any more, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette should aim higher if he’s serious about adding a right-handed DH option to the 25-man roster. Realistically speaking, the executive should be looking to do better regardless of the cost to acquire Reynolds, who seems like more of a fingers-crossed hope than a real solution at this point.

In his two seasons in Baltimore, Reynolds hit .221 with 60 home runs, 155 RBIs, and a .786 OPS in 290 games.

 

 

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

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Ten Orioles thoughts with April in the books

Posted on 01 May 2013 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles concluding the opening month of the 2013 season by tying a franchise record with 16 wins in April, here are 10 thoughts to ponder as May begins:

1. Jason Hammel leads the club with four wins, but we’ve yet to see the 2012 version of the de facto ace show up this season. That’s not to say the right-hander hasn’t been one of the Orioles’ better starting pitchers, but the two-seam fastball that led to his renaissance last season hasn’t shown nearly the same bite through six starts this year. Despite a 3.79 earned run average, Hammel is averaging just 5.9 innings per start and his 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings is down dramatically from the 8.6 rate he held last season. Always possessing strong breaking stuff, Hammel needs to find a better feel for his two-seamer in order to make the rest of his repertoire more explosive. There was little debate that 2012 was a career season for Hammel prior to the knee surgery in July, but the Orioles didn’t actively pursue an impact starting pitcher with the thought — wise or not — that they had a pitcher with top-of-the rotation stuff. They’ll need better from Hammel over the next five months of the season.

2. Chris Davis’ historic opening-week start gained the most attention, but the free-swinging first baseman also collected 16 walks in April. His nine home runs have garnered plenty of press as opponents are pitching the left-handed slugger very carefully since the beginning of the season, but the walk totals have led many — including me — to praise Davis for an improved level of patience at the plate after he walked only 37 times during the 2012 season. However, the 27-year-old is seeing just 3.79 pitches per plate appearance after averaging 4.00 pitches per trip to the plate a year ago. Part of this can be explained by Davis’ strikeout rate decreasing (one every 3.5 at-bats compared to one per 3.0 at-bats last year), but it also indicates his walk numbers may not be sustained as his bat inevitably cools off at different points in the season. Regardless of just how much more patient Davis has become at the plate or not, it’s difficult to dispute how much of a force he’s become since the beginning of last season, making his acquisition in the Koji Uehara deal in 2011 a brilliant one by former president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

3. The decisions to let go of Mark Reynolds and Joe Saunders weren’t the problem, but electing not to replace them is looking more and more like a mistake. Anyone who expects the former Orioles first baseman to continue hitting .300 like he did in his first month with Cleveland will likely be disappointed, but his eight home runs would look very good in the Baltimore lineup right now. Considering Orioles designated hitters batted .144 and posted a .502 on-base plus slugging percentage in April, Reynolds occupying that role or first base — with Davis handling the other — would be a major boost to the lineup. Meanwhile, Saunders pitched a complete game against the Orioles on Monday night but has been abysmal away from Safeco Field (12.51 ERA) so far. As I said during the offseason, letting go of Reynolds and Saunders was fine if the intention was to upgrade each of their spots and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette expressed the desire to acquire a middle-of-the-order bat and a veteran starting pitcher. However, neither of those goals were accomplished and that could continue to plague the Orioles throughout 2013.

4. Zach Britton turned in a poor 2013 debut, but his quick demotion sends the wrong message to the organization’s young pitchers. No one expected the 25-year-old left-hander to have a long leash given the higher expectations in Baltimore these days, but I can’t subscribe to the idea of sending down a pitcher who you hope will fit into your future after only one rough start. This creates the impression that young pitchers looking for their chance in Baltimore need to be perfect, which isn’t a mindset conducive to being successful. I also wonder what kind of message it sends to Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin, who gave their recommendation for Britton to be the next call-up after Josh Stinson’s failed start last week. A spot start for an organizational depth guy like Stinson or even a journeyman like Freddy Garcia is fine, but if the expectation all along was for Britton to only receive one chance, the club would have been better served leaving him in Norfolk and not messing with his head. Again, allowing six earned runs in six innings was far from acceptable, but it wasn’t the type of disastrous outing that warranted an immediate exit.

5. It’s safe to say Nolan Reimold has yet to adjust to his new role as the club’s primary designated hitter. Reimold has two home runs, five RBIs, and a 1.029 OPS in 29 plate appearances as the club’s left fielder, but the 29-year-old has posted an ugly .477 OPS with one homer and two RBIs in 52 plate appearances while serving in the DH spot. The problem for Reimold is the remarkable play of Nate McLouth, who has been more productive at the plate and is better defensively in the outfield. Manager Buck Showalter can’t justify taking McLouth out of left field, so Reimold needs to adjust to his new role, which can be difficult for individuals accustomed to being in the game as a defensive player. The good news for Reimold is that he’s remained healthy after undergoing spinal fusion surgery last year, but the Orioles must get better production from the designated hitter or will need to begin looking at other options for the role. It’s fair to acknowledge he’s still regaining strength and is adjusting to not having quite as much range of motion in his neck after the surgery, but Reimold would be the first to tell you he needs to be better at the plate.

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Drew’s Morning Dish — Mon., April 22

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Drew’s Morning Dish — Mon., April 22

Posted on 22 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

It’s amazing how dramatically different Baltimore football and baseball fans are when it comes to criticizing their players.

Joe Flacco goes 17-30 for 282 yards and 2 TD’s and 1 INT in a 23-16 win and all everyone talks about is the one pick he threw or the two short passes he dumped over the head of Ray Rice.

And that’s in a win, mind you.

Flacco gets raked over the coals after virtually every performance of his, good or bad.

Jake Arrieta, meanwhile, can’t throw seven innings of quality baseball and somehow his starts are poo-poo’d with fan responses like, “He has great stuff, though.  We can’t give up on him now” or “He was great in last year’s season opener against the Twins, remember that one?”

Maybe it’s because there’s a baseball game every night.  If we took to criticizing a player’s performance every single night, we’d drive ourselves batty.

In football, you play on Sunday and then we spend the next 2-3 days breaking it all down and telling you how much you stink even though we don’t have much of an idea of what we’re really looking at, honestly.

Arrieta just isn’t getting any better.

That’s it in a nutshell.

I don’t think he’s getting worse.

But from start-to-start, he’s not improving enough to warrant keeping him around.

He knows it, too.

Hope you find a good coffee shop in Norfolk, Jake.

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That should just about do it for Rolando McClain’s career in Baltimore.

The worst part about his Sunday night arrest?  The headlines on the national sports web pages say, “Ravens McClain arrested in Alabama”.

He’s not REALLY on the team.  He has a contract for 2013, yes, but it’s a stretch to even say he’s on the team at this point.

His arrest brings embarrassment to the Ravens just by association alone.

I know, I know, “he gets his day in court” and all of that other fancy wordsmithing that’s code word for: “If he somehow isn’t found guilty, we can still keep him around”.

Anyway, no one is surprised by his Sunday night arrest, right?

I’m not.

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Barring an almost unthinkable collapse, the Capitals are going to win the Southeast Division.  They have a 3-point lead on Winnipeg with three games to play and all three of the Caps’ remaining games are in D.C., including a big one on Tuesday against the Jets.

The Caps might even get a rare playoff break if the Islanders hang on to 6th place in the Eastern Conference.  Washington can handle them, I think, in the first round of the post-season.

Then again, the Islanders have played good hockey over the last three weeks and have gone from the outside-looking-in to a team that appears as if they’re getting hot at the right time.

I don’t know who it will be, but someone along the way will put the Caps out of their misery between now and the end of May.

I honestly don’t care who eliminates them as long as it’s not the Flyers.

What’s that, you say?

Oh, the Flyers didn’t make the playoffs this season?

What a shame…

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Mark Reynolds has 7 HR’s for the Indians this season.

You knew that was going to happen, though.

If he stays healthy, he’ll have 35 homers for Cleveland in 2013.

Then again, they do have one more series with the Astros this season, right?

Make it 40 homers.

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Is it me or is there not an overwhelming amount of excitement for college lacrosse so far this spring?

Maybe it was the lengthy winter and the cool weather that stuck around here until the second week of April.  I don’t know, I could be wrong here, but I just haven’t felt a buzz in the air for college lax like we usually do by now.

Then again, no one in the state has a really, really good team.  Everyone has a couple of losses, at least.  Maybe that’s it.

 

 

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Orioles Feeling the Burden of Expectations

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Orioles Feeling the Burden of Expectations

Posted on 15 April 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

It was a disappointing weekend in the Bronx for the Orioles to say the least. They dropped 2 of 3 games to a Yankees team that’s about as bad and undermanned as we can ever expect a Yankees team to be. Without Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, or even Jeter’s backup Eduardo Nunez the Orioles came up on the short end of the stick in 2 of 3 games. They lost on Friday night when Adam Jones lost track of a ball that once again ignited the “hot dog” conversation, and proved themselves not quite ready for primetime on Sunday when they failed again to get Wei-Yin Chen any kind of run support.

 

The good news is that it’s still early, and way too soon to overreact. It’s also a reminder that last year, devoid of any real expectations but encouraged nonetheless by a hot start, the O’s came crashing back to Earth at the hands of the Yankees in their first trip of the season to the Bronx.

The bad news is, that last year is over, and likely (in fact hopefully for Orioles fans) will never be duplicated. Because of the absence of any real expectations amongst Orioles fans last year, the whole season was seen through the scope of “I’m just happy to be here”, and “I just can’t believe what this team continues to do”. It would take a heck of a lot more losing, over a heck of a lot more years before Orioles fans will again happily embrace the lovable underdogs mentality that served as a constant calming influence throughout last season’s highs and lows.

While we are just 12 games into the season and while it is still anyone’s guess what these Orioles will do in 2013, our overreactions are natural, and to be expected for lots of reasons. Foremost amongst them is the lack of activity by the team this off-season. From the failure to re-sign Mark Reynolds and Joe Saunders, to the farcical “pursuits” of Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher among others, there seemed to be an underlying belief by the Orioles’ faithful that they wouldn’t simply sit on their hands. This team had come too far too fast, and coincidentally the division as a whole seemed to be coming down to meet them. Surely the AL East wouldn’t remain as winnable as it seems right now for very long; and surely the O’s wouldn’t deprive their long-suffering fan base an opportunity to strike while the iron was hot.

That however is exactly what it seems that they’ve done. The depth that the Orioles were counting on to make up for their lack of activity has already taken a major (but not at all surprising) hit due to injuries. The designated hitter position has accounted for less production than most National League teams have gotten from their pitchers’ bats, and all the while the names that most fans spent the off-season discussing, Mark Reynolds, Michael Morse, Justin Upton, Bill Butler etc. are putting up numbers that would surely look useful to a team that seems to be just a hit or two away from winning night after night.

So far the Orioles have played a brand of baseball that we’d have been thrilled with last season. In fact they’ve played almost exactly the same brand of baseball that we were thrilled with last season. But this year, we wanted more. This year we expected more. This year we deserved more. But what we’ve gotten instead is the same old philosophical approach.

The O’s are willing to offer players just enough money to get a headline or two, but not enough to actually sign one. The Orioles are willing to offer just enough via trade to feign interest in a player, but not enough to land one, especially not one who’s making real money already. And the fans are left to fight amongst themselves; to debate whether every single trade proposal would have required Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman as the chips, or whether Mark Reynolds was worth $6 million or Nick Swisher a first-round pick. It’s divide and conquer marketing at its best, and the Orioles have it down to a science. And once again the forces running the Orioles seem determined to win every battle except the ones on the field.

Ahhh…the burden of high expectations.

 

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Something’s not adding up in the Mark Reynolds saga

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Something’s not adding up in the Mark Reynolds saga

Posted on 01 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

I always have to say this when the conversation comes around to Mark Reynolds.

I wouldn’t have him on MY team.  Even at first base, where he was acceptable with the glove, the holes in his offensive game were so gaping and costly that he wouldn’t be employed by me.

But I don’t run the Orioles.

And for the last two years, they’ve employed Reynolds.

For the last seven weeks or so, Dan Duquette could have negotiated a new deal with him.  He could have offered him arbitration.  Or he could have picked up an $11.5 million option for 2013 just to see what one more season would yield from Reynolds.

Instead, Duquette and the Orioles simply said, “we’ll pass”.

That makes Reynolds a free agent this morning.

And, despite the fact I wouldn’t have him on MY team, the Orioles are now in the market for a “real” first baseman after deciding to let their guy leave and test the market.

Here’s why it’s all wrong:  The Orioles have let Mark Reynolds go because of a few million dollars.  They could have given him $11.5 million and he’d be on their team, albeit perhaps at $4 million more than the team thinks he’s worth.  They could have signed him to a 2-year deal for roughly $20 million, but they probably only thought he was worth $16 million for two years.

Dan Duquette keeps talking about the Orioles “valuing” Reynolds, but they won’t sign him because they can’t fit him in their budget.

Or they simply don’t want him back and they’re lying about it.

Either way, Dan Duquette has publicly declared that Reynolds doesn’t “fit in our budget” for 2013.  What budget in baseball is so restricted in December that a GM can’t weasel a few more million bucks out of the owner to keep a player who has been a fixture in the team’s lineup for the last two years?

It’s one thing if Duquette says, “We wish Mark all the best but we’re going to go in a different direction at first base.”

Instead, he has constantly said, “We like the player, but not at that price.”

And yesterday, on the eve of letting Reynolds walk, Duquette again referenced the team’s budget and talked about “financial challenges”.

Something’s not adding up here.

(Please see next page)

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Deadline looming to offer contract to Reynolds

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Deadline looming to offer contract to Reynolds

Posted on 27 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Having until Friday to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players, the Orioles are appearing more and more unlikely to do so with first base Mark Reynolds, meaning he could hit the open market by the end of the week.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette already declined an $11 million club option last month — for which Reynolds was paid a $500,000 buyout — and the Orioles appear to be lukewarm to the idea of taking the 29-year-old to arbitration where he could command somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million. Reynolds made $7.5 million in 2012 and would likely receive a raise in arbitration despite hitting only 23 home runs — his lowest total since his rookie season — and posting a career-low .429 slugging percentage this year.

According to a MASN report, the Orioles are attempting to sign Reynolds to a new deal prior to Friday’s deadline, which would pay him a lower salary than the projected figure he’d be awarded in arbitration but would likely offer the first baseman more security with an extra year or two on a deal while coming off arguably the worst season of his career. Reynolds batted .221 with 23 home runs, 69 runs batted in, and a .335 on-base percentage in 538 plate appearances.

After committing six errors in 15 games at third base early last season, Reynolds moved to first base where he showed improved defense, even if fielding metrics suggest many have overrated his work at the new position. Despite the defensive concerns being alleviated last season, Reynolds drop in power was a major concern after he slugged 37 home runs in his first season with the Orioles.

Few would dispute the premise of the Orioles trying to upgrade at first base, but the limited options on the free-agent market make it difficult to swallow the idea of simply allowing Reynolds to hit the open market, where he would be viewed as one of the better options at first base. Aside from veteran Adam LaRoche, who will command much more money than Reynolds’ arbitration projection, other options at first base include Mike Napoli, Lance Berkman, James Loney, and Carlos Pena.

Of course, the Orioles could elect to move Chris Davis to first base if they’re unable to work out an agreement with Reynolds, but they would then have to address the designated hitter spot in addition to left field, where they are still hoping to re-sign Nate McLouth to an affordable contract.

Despite his flaws, Reynolds still might be the best of the realistic options available as he likely would be motivated to prove his down year was an aberration if he were playing on a one-year deal. It’s also important to remember the former third baseman shed 20 pounds in order to improve his agility at the hot corner last offseason, which might be a factor in explaining his decreased power numbers in 2012. Knowing he’s now viewed as a first baseman, Reynolds could elect to add extra bulk to his frame to help revitalize his power numbers.

Looking beyond the low batting average and high strikeout numbers that give traditional fans fits, Reynolds holds more value than most realize if his power numbers were to return to the 2011 level in which he finished fourth in home runs in the American League. In 2012, he led the club in walks (73) and had the second-best on-base percentage on the club behind Nick Markakis despite playing in only 135 games.

Even at a projected $9 million price tag in arbitration, a third season of Reynolds with no commitment beyond 2013 would appear to make sense with a final chance to evaluate whether he’s part of the long-term plans at first base, but it’s looking like the Orioles appear content to let him hit the open market where it will be more difficult to retain his services. It’s a bold move considering the few options out there and the limited commodities in the farm system to offer in a trade, so it will be interesting to see if the club ultimately allows Reynolds to walk if contract talks are unsuccessful and Duquette is forced into making a decision on Friday.

The Orioles have a total of 14 arbitration-eligible players this offseason, which include:

INF Alexi Casilla
DH/OF Chris Davis
P Jason Hammel
P Tommy Hunter
P Jim Johnson
P Brian Matusz
P Darren O’Day
P Troy Patton
OF Steve Pearce
INF Omar Quintanilla
OF Nolan Reimold
1B Mark Reynolds
C Taylor Teagarden
C Matt Wieters

Third-base coach options

With former third-base coach DeMarlo Hale officially leaving the Orioles to become the new bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, the club is now looking at several candidates to replace him on manager Buck Showalter’s staff.

Various outlets are reporting former Rockies third base coach and former Orioles second baseman Rich Dauer and former Indians and Rangers third base coach Steve Smith as the primary outside candidates to take Hale’s place. Dauer would be the sentimental favorite and has extensive coaching experience in the big leagues while Smith has familiarity with Showalter, serving as his third base coach in Texas.

Former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu would also be an intriguing candidate after he nearly became the Orioles bench coach a couple seasons ago. He served as Showalter’s bench coach in Texas but also has experience as a third-base coach.

As for internal candidates, coordinator of minor league instruction Brian Graham and minor league infield coordinator Bobby Dickerson are reportedly on the short list.

Local product moves on

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Orioles did themselves right by refusing Reynolds’ contract option

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Orioles did themselves right by refusing Reynolds’ contract option

Posted on 31 October 2012 by Drew Forrester

So, the opening shot in the Mark Reynolds saga has been fired.

And, credit to the Orioles here, it’s the right one.

The Orioles today informed their first baseman the club would not be exercising an $11 million option for 2013, effectively making him a free agent if the Orioles also decline to offer him arbitration prior to November 30.

The Reynolds situation is, by far, the most complex off-season issue the Orioles face.  As a third baseman, Reynolds was a flop.  But late in 2011 and throughout most of 2012, he transformed from woeful to wonderful at first base, which is clearly where his future lies as far as defense goes.

And that’s precisely why cutting him loose and not paying the $11 million was the right thing for the Orioles to do.

It makes little sense at all to offer him arbitration, since it’s likely he’ll be awarded upwards of $9 million or more based on his numbers over the last two seasons in Baltimore and his emergence as a solid defensive player at first.  If you play the arbritation game and he gets $9 million THIS season, what happens if he comes back with a banner offensive and defensive season in 2013?  He might be a $13 million player at that point.

Arbitration makes no sense from the Orioles standpoint.

What they could do — if they want Reynolds back — is sign him to a multi-year deal in the $5-$8 million per-year range right now.

The question, of course:  What’s his true market value to the Orioles?

Reynolds would likely balk at anything under $7 million a year, which makes it even more reasonable to not renew his $11 million option.  Is he an $8 million per-year player?  $9 million?

Here’s how the Orioles should play this now:  Let him go out and see what his value is on the open market.

That’s the best way to handle this situation, particularly given that you’ve already basically told him “We don’t think you’re worth $11 million a year.”

If Reynolds thinks he can get someone to pony up $25 or $30 million over three years, he should try and find that team on his own and then, if he wants, give the Orioles a chance to match the offer.

There’s definitely a thought that this Mark Reynolds, the one who saw his power numbers drop in 2013, would be an easy player to evaluate if he were still letting grounders go through his legs at third base.  He’d be worth little, if anything, to a team like the Orioles who are now in the “really trying to get better” mode.

But the new Mark Reynolds — the one who is competent at first base — is much harder to judge from a salary and contract standpoint.  Is this the best offense the Orioles are going to get from him…25 HRs and 75 RBI and a .231 batting average?  Is that his ceiling?  If so, you have to find someone better than that to patrol first base sometime soon.

I say this:  Let Mark Reynolds and his agent get on the phone and talk to some teams and see what they can get (again, assuming the Orioles aren’t going to offer him arbitration on Nov. 30).  The worst case scenario is that Reynolds gets some dumb team out there to cough up $32 million for 3 years.  You can then either give him $32 million (assuming he’ll do the whole “right of first refusal” thing) or tell him to hit the road and enjoy his new team.  The best case scenario is that he goes out on the free market and – like Ray Lewis a few years ago – gets his feelings hurt when no one offers him a real contract.

Either way, the Orioles don’t have to set the market for a player that, honestly, they’d have a tough time truly evaluating based on a short sample size of work at first base and a down year offensively.

The worst part of all?  There aren’t many quality first base options in free agency this winter.   Replacing Reynolds with someone dramatically better will be difficult unless they can make a trade.

 

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Reynolds’ hand good to go and other notes for ALDS opener

Posted on 06 October 2012 by Luke Jones

When Mark Reynolds was plunked on the left hand by Rangers starter Yu Darvish in the second inning of Friday night’s game in Arlington, the Orioles feared the worst for their first baseman.

The club saw Nick Markakis break his thumb after being hit by a similar pitch nearly a month ago, but the news was better for Reynolds, who stayed in the game to finish an 0-for-3 night at the plate. He is expected to be in the lineup against the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

“This guy is a very tough, durable man, but that one had a little different look in his face,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I initially thought it might be broken. I haven’t heard anything yet, but I’d be surprised if he’s not a player [Sunday] night.”

Showalter officially named right-hander Jason Hammel as his Game 1 starter, but he wouldn’t go as far as naming the rest of his rotation. Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez will likely be the next two in line to pitch in the five-game series, but an uncertain weather forecast could alter plans.

Sunday is expected to be a very rainy day, which could put the series opener in danger of postponement. This would mean the Orioles and Yankees would play the entire series in five days without a day built in for travel. A postponement would alter the Orioles’ plans for the 25-man roster, which must be finalized by Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

“Right now, we’re probably looking at Chen and Gonzalez in [Games] 2 and 3, but that could change, depending on the rainout,” Showalter said. “If we have a rainout, then a lot of things change because we can resubmit a different roster provided we don’t exchange lineup cards.”

Showalter would presumably go with Chris Tillman in the fourth game of the series in the Bronx, but what the Orioles decide to do after that remains to be seen. With no postponements, Hammel would be on regular rest for a potential Game 5, but left-hander Joe Saunders made a pretty convincing argument for his spot in the rotation after pitching 5 2/3 strong innings against the Rangers on Friday night.

As for the rest of the roster, Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette were to finalize plans after Saturday’s workout. The Orioles are monitoring the health of several players, including Wilson Betemit since the switch-hitter has seen his wrist improve dramatically since last playing on Sept. 13.

“There are a couple variables, like Betemit swung the bat and felt really good today,” Showalter said. “First time he took extended batting practice and he’s coming along quickly. We’re looking at a few injuries.”

The return of Betemit would give the Orioles a viable left-handed bat off the bench, regardless of whether Showalter would elect to use Thome or Betemit as the designated hitter in a given game. Betemit hit .302 against right-handed pitching this season, posting an .859 on-base plus slugging percentage. In contrast, Betemit is hitting only .140 from the right side of the plate against southpaws.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi revealed the rest of his starting rotation behind Game 1 starter CC Sabathia on Saturday. Veteran lefty Andy Pettitte will pitch Game 2 in Baltimore, Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3, and Phil Hughes in the fourth game of the series if necessary.

Sabathia would presumably return on regular rest for a potential Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, but those plans could change if Sunday’s game is rained out.

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In Orioles’ storybook season, a few stand out for me

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In Orioles’ storybook season, a few stand out for me

Posted on 05 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

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.

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Reynolds’ Bum Rap

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Reynolds’ Bum Rap

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

There are no players on the Orioles, and few in Major League Baseball, perhaps few in the history of Major League Baseball as confounding or as difficult to assess as Mark Reynolds has been. In fact, when it comes to assessing Reynolds’ skill set and therefore his value, the discussion can be downright divisive.

Those who have no tolerance for Mark Reynolds will point to his battles with the Mendoza line and his annual assault on the 200-strikeout plateau as evidence of his not having much of a clue at the plate. The walk numbers that he routinely amasses however seem to tell a different story. Reynolds goes to the plate with an idea of the strike zone, and rarely seems willing to compromise that idea or to cater it to the game situation at hand. His inability to move runners with productive outs seems to stick in the crawls of his bashers, while the resultant lack of double plays provides plenty of fodder for his supporters.

 

It’s not easy these days to suggest that Buck Showalter is doing much, or anything wrong, when it comes to managing the Orioles. We seem to be in universal agreement (a rarity among baseball fans) that JJ Hardy is misplaced at best in the #2 spot in the order, but even that has given way to the “In Buck We Trust” mantra and mindset. So far though, throughout his Orioles career, Buck Showalter has handled “the Mark Reynolds situation” badly.

 

Reynolds is clearly not a good 3rd baseman, a reality Orioles fans were forced to face head on last season, and a reality seemingly corrected once Reynolds transitioned to first base last season. Still, for some inexplicable reason, Showalter and the Orioles sent Reynolds home last off-season with the idea (and intention) of sticking him back at 3rd base. They did so, unsuccessfully again, and how much of an impact that has had on the other elements of his game is, like everything else about Reynolds, debatable.

 

The Photo Shopped pictures of Reynolds eating sunflowers seeds in various comical locales fed the notion (and may have led some to believe) that Reynolds was indifferent to the game going on around him. Others believe Reynolds may care too much and that maybe having to make the throw from 3rd to 1st, across the diamond , had a mental impact on his game and caused him to be less than focused elsewhere. Whether that’s true or not, Reynolds at first base has been at the very least better than serviceable, and lately he’s arguably been pretty good there. And, coincidentally or not, he seems to have picked things up at the plate since being assigned to first as well.

 

For those who find themselves counting the days until Reynolds’ departure…beware. Reynolds’ contract situation is like all other Reynolds related subjects precarious. He has an $11 million club option at the end of the season, but will also finish 2012 short of the 6 years of MLB service time required to make him a free agent. That would seem to make the Orioles likely to buy out his option and offer either arbitration, or a longer-term compromise of a contract.

 

As things stand today, Reynolds’ .347 OBP ranks him 25th in the American League. In simpler terms there are only 24 guys in the entire AL this year who are more difficult to get out than Mark Reynolds. Of the 12 guys sitting above him in OBP, about half have anywhere near the power potential Reynolds possesses, in fact only 12 of the 24 players above him have more than the 16 homeruns that Reynolds has in this, a down year for power based on his career standards. Turning Reynolds walks into singles puts him in good company (OBP and power-wise) with guys like Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton, all of whom are looking down the barrels of $20 million or so per season paydays while Reynolds (at $11 million) is being treated like a plague on the Orioles.

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