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Machado 6-7

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Orioles Have Issues

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Tom Federline

A little over one-third of the way in and this current Oriole team is no playoff contender. At this stage in the game, it does not even look like either of the two wild cards are going to come out of the east division. Don’t get me started on the TWO (2) wild card teams and one game winner-take all scenario. That is bogus! For future (and from a past) blog – I say 142 game season (players salaries adjusted/decreased), season is from mid-April to mid-September, 3 division winners/ 1 wild card, 3 out of 5 Division series, 3 out of 5 Championship series, 4 out of 7 World Series. Season over by 2nd week of October. Ok enough, had to get that out there. Bottom line – O’s at current rate there will be no October ball anyway.

Oriole Issues - challenged starting pitching, questionable middle relief, no closer threat (yet), minimal clutch hitting, to many men left on base, increased errors, no catcher and lack of team discipline. All that and they are in second place of the American League East with a 31 – 30 record. To put in perspective -that is the 7th best record out of 15 teams in the American League and 14th out of 30, in both leagues. It is amazing they have been able to hold on as long as they have, considering the inflated pitching ERA and loss of their major signal caller and part backbone of the team (Wieters).

I see a team not focused. Next time you’re at the Yards, check out the dugout, during and in between innings. Buck-Buck does NOT have a handle on the boys. There should be a rule – ‘No one goes down the tunnel unless you are due up and require warm-ups for your at-bat. No buffet snacking during game. No video games. Just stay out of the tunnel and all it’s amenities.” Watch game, with teammates, on bench. That should not be tough requirement for the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged roster players. Buck-Buck should remind them of their hourly rate.

I see a major bust in Jimenez. BTW – nice move Orioles magazine editor – putting Ubaldo-more on the cover of the first Oriole magazine this year. See blog from Opening Day – “Play Ball”.  One, maybe two decent games? He’s 2 -7 with a 5.01 ERA. Yeah, there’s a #2 starter for ya. “O” wait-a-minute, that’s right the weather has to warm up in order for him to perform at a comfortable level. Hmmm – seemed pretty warm to me for about a month now.

I saw a youngster breakdown and act his age this past weekend. Well, actually the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged “star-in-the-making” acted more like a 10 year old. Team discipline? Manny-O-Manny, did you need your Mommy this weekend? Over -reaction on Friday night. Whined all weekend. Lackluster performance on his Bobblehead night annnnnnnnnd thennnnnnnn, yesterdays throwing of the bat. Fine him, suspend him, send him to his room with no snack before bed time. Maybe he was just miffed that they used a JJ Hardy look-a-like bobblehead instead of using the picture of himself he has hanging above his bed as the model.

Whatever the case, Machado still has some growing up to do. Ok, he’s still young, he will be 22 in July. Nope, not buying that one either. He needs a mentor. He needs a taste of Humble Pie.  He needs a butt kicking. He also needs to be put in the 6th hole and out of the #2 spot. He’s an inning killer. In particular, the first inning. Markakis is rolling at that top spot and it’s getting wasted. This is a case for Buck-Buck, Jones or Markakis to take control in the clubhouse. Actually, it’s a job for his parental units. Enough of that embarrassing situation.

The team appears in disarray at the moment. The boys holding this thing together are: Markakis, Jones, Cruuuuuz (until they pop him for juicy juice again) and Hardy. Pitching: Thank you Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Zach Britton – saving graces. Wieters being out – hurts offensively and defensively. The captain on the field is out and it shows. If the Orioles stay at current pace, it’s going to be a frustrating year. It’s time for Buck-Buck to “Whip It” – Devo. And whip it good! Get the boys back on track. How about one step at a time – just beat the Bosox!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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Wieters to see Dr. Andrews next week after slow progress with elbow

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Wieters to see Dr. Andrews next week after slow progress with elbow

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Monday’s discussion centering around a potential suspension for third baseman Manny Machado, the Orioles received not-so-encouraging news regarding the future of catcher Matt Wieters.

Manager Buck Showalter confirmed the 28-year-old is expected to see renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews for a follow-up appointment next Monday to reevaluate the status of his sore right elbow. Wieters began a throwing progression on May 30 but is still experiencing discomfort in his elbow, which could result in him electing to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

“He probably hasn’t as progressed as quickly as Matt had hoped it would, but it hasn’t been any setback or anything,” Showalter said. “I think he just wants to get from Dr. Andrews where he thinks he is and let him see it again. It wasn’t per se scheduled, but I think it’s something Matt would like to do just to make sure that he agrees with where he is and the way we’re proceeding.”

Wieters completed his latest throwing session on Monday, which was one of his best since he was cleared to throw. The Orioles have discussed July 1 as the point when a decision would need to be made about undergoing surgery to make sure the two-time All-Star catcher would be ready for the start of the 2015 season, the final year he is under team control before hitting free agency.

The Orioles placed Wieters on the 15-day disabled list on May 11 and hasn’t caught in a game since May 4. The trio of Caleb Joseph, Steve Clevenger, and the recently-acquired Nick Hundley have filled in behind the plate in Wieters’ absence.

“I’m still holding out hope that we get something accomplished and Dr. Andrews says, ‘This is so; let’s continue down this path,’” Showalter said. “It’s a date that would allow him to start the season next year. That’s really what it is. It doesn’t mean that he can’t continue down this road and not start the season on time next year. That’s a decision that he’s going to make, and we’re going to be supportive of it regardless.”

Wieters leads American League All-Star voting at the catcher position and was off to arguably the best offensive start of his career, hitting .308 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in.

Showalter remained optimistic on Monday, but the continued presence of pain is not a good sign as Wieters and the Orioles try to decide how to proceed. The Baltimore manager expected Wieters to continue his program of throwing every other day until his appointment with Dr. Andrews next Monday.

“He still has some discomfort, but nothing like he had,” Showalter said. “Matt was hoping it would have progressed a little more at this point. I think he wants to get Dr. Andrews’ opinion, and Dr. Andrews thinks that’s a good idea. He’s just going to go in and what they come out of that appointment with, let’s put it this way, I hope I see him [next] Tuesday.”

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Cruz, Wieters continue to lead All-Star voting at respective positions

Posted on 08 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Bautista takes overall American League lead in latest balloting update for 85th All-Star Game

Jeter, Ramirez in tight battle for start at shortstop; Bautista followed by Trout, Miguel Cabrera for overall league lead 

Toronto Blue Jays four-time All-Star Jose Bautista, who was Major League Baseball’s leading vote-getter for the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona, has surpassed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout for the overall American League lead in the third balloting update for the 85thAll-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 15th at Target Field in Minnesota. The latest A.L. results were announced earlier this evening on ESPN as part of its “Baseball Tonight” telecast. The third National League balloting results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow night via press release and local rightsholder broadcasts.

Bautista, who has been a fan-elected starter in each of the last three seasons, has received 2,135,223 votes as he looks to become the 10th different A.L. outfielder in history to earn four consecutive fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (four from 1972-75 and five from 1980-84); Dave Winfield (six from 1983-88); Rickey Henderson (four from 1985-88); and Kirby Puckett (four from 1992-95); as well as Ken Griffey, Jr. (10 from 1990-99); Manny Ramirez (eight from 1999-2006); Vladimir Guerrero (four from 2004-07); Ichiro Suzuki (four from 2001-04 and five from 2006-10); and Josh Hamilton (five from 2008-12). Bautista is also bidding to become the second player in Blue Jays history to receive four fan-elected starting nods, joining Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (2B, 1991-94). Bautista, who has reached base safely in 61 of his 64 games, entered play on Sunday as the A.L. leader with a .438 on-base percentage and was tied for fifth in the league with 15 home runs.

Bautista is joined in the outfield by Trout, who has garnered 1,945,170 votes, and his Blue Jays teammate Melky Cabrera, who has totaled 1,096,784 votes. Trout, who last year at 21 years old became the youngest A.L. position player to start the All-Star Game since Ivan Rodriguez in 1993, is bidding to join Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1979-84), Fred Lynn (1982-83), Jackson (1982-84) and Guerrero (2004-07) as the only Angels in history to earn consecutive fan-elected starts. Entering Sunday, the 2012 A.L. Rookie of the Year had hits in 14 of his last 15 games and had reached base safely in 26 of his last 27 games. Cabrera, a 2012 N.L. All-Star, would become the fourth different Blue Jays outfielder in history to receive a fan election, joining Bautista, Joe Carter (1993-94) and George Bell (1987). Cabrera and Bautista are trying to become the first pair of Blue Jays to start a Midsummer Classic since 1994, when Alomar and Carter were elected to start by the fans. In addition, they would become the first pair of teammates to start in the A.L. outfield since Boston’s Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in 2005, and it would mark the 17th All-Star Game in history to feature starting teammates in the A.L. outfield. Cabrera, who entered Sunday second in the Majors with 81 hits, is followed in balloting by Baltimore Orioles three-time All-Star and 2013 starter Adam Jones (820,336); 2011 A.L. All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury (813,357) of the New York Yankees; and Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (799,123), bidding for his first All-Star selection.

At shortstop, 13-time A.L. All-Star Derek Jeter of the Yankees, who has garnered 1,376,054 votes, is trying to hold off Alexei Ramirez (1,212,362) of the Chicago White Sox in the A.L.’s closest race for a starting assignment. Jeter, who ranks eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,370 hits, is seeking his ninth fan election, which would make him the seventh player in A.L. history to earn as many fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Griffey, Jr. (10 with Seattle); Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas). Ramirez, who is attempting to become the first White Sox shortstop to make the All-Star Game since Ozzie Guillen in 1991, entered Sunday tied for the A.L. lead with 24 multi-hit games, tied for fourth with a .321 batting average and ranked fifth with 77 hits.

Joining Jeter up the middle at second base is his former teammate and five-time All-Star Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners. Cano, in his first year with Seattle, has accumulated 1,111,880 votes as he continues to lead three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler (887,544) of the Detroit Tigers and four-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia (778,700) of the Boston Red Sox. Cano, the A.L. starting second baseman in each of the last four seasons, is aiming to become the third second baseman in A.L. history to earn five consecutive fan-elected starts, joining Hall of Famers Carew (six straight, 1970-75) and Alomar (five straight, 1996-2000). Cano, who entered Sunday with an A.L.-best .332 batting average, would join Bret Boone (2001) as the only fan-elected starting second basemen in Mariners history. In addition, Cano, who was also tied for first in the A.L. with 24 multi-hit games and ranked seventh with 75 hits, could become just the fourth Seattle infielder to receive an election from the fans, joining Boone, John Olerud (1B, 2001) and Alex Rodriguez (SS, 1997-98; 2000). Since May 3rd, Cano leads the Majors with a .375 batting average, going 45-for-120 in that span.

Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who entered play on Sunday leading the Majors with 21 home runs and 55 RBI, continues to hold a slight advantage over David Ortiz of the Red Sox. Cruz, a two-time All-Star, has tallied 1,404,275 votes while Ortiz, a nine-time All-Star and seven-time fan-elected starter (including two at first base), has received a total of 1,036,055 votes. Entering Sunday, Cruz had hit safely in 20 of his last 24 games since May 13th, batting .364 (32-for-88) during that span with eight doubles, 11 homers, 19 runs scored and 25 RBI. He is attempting to end Ortiz’s run of three consecutive fan-elected starts at designated hitter, and would become just the fifth different fan-elected starter at the position, joining Edgar Martinez (1997, 2001, 2003), Jose Canseco (1999), Ortiz (2005, 2008, 2011-13) and Guerrero (2010).

At the corner infield spots, first baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Athletics continue to lead at their positions. Cabrera has received 1,477,420 votes, which ranks third overall in the A.L., while Donaldson has collected 1,470,544 votes, good for fourth overall in the Junior Circuit. Cabrera, an eight-time All-Star and the A.L.’s 2013 starting third baseman, leads the A.L. with a .418 batting average with runners in scoring position. In addition, he entered play on Sunday second in the league with 51 RBI, tied for second with 20 doubles, tied for third with 31 extra-base hits, fourth with a .321 batting average and seventh with 125 total bases and a .545 slugging percentage. The reigning two-time A.L. MVP (also 2012) would become just the fifth player in Tigers history to earn multiple fan-elected starting assignments at the Midsummer Classic, joining catchers Bill Freehan (1970, 1972), Lance Parrish (1984-86), Ivan Rodriguez (2004, 2006-07) and second baseman Lou Whitaker (1984-86). In addition, the 2012 Triple Crown winner would join former teammate Prince Fielder as the only fan-elected starting first basemen in Tigers history. Cabrera is followed at first base by Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu (845,059). Donaldson, in search of his first All-Star selection, is batting .296 (29-for-98) with 26 runs scored, two doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and 26 RBI over his last 26 games. He would become the first A’s third baseman to earn a fan-elected start, and the first Oakland player overall to receive a fan-election since first baseman Jason Giambi in 2000. Entering the day on Sunday, Donaldson leads the Majors with 51 runs scored, ranks third in the A.L. with 132 total bases, is tied for third with 50 RBI and 17 home runs, is sixth with 30 extra-base hits and is ninth with a .543 slugging percentage. He is followed at the hot corner by three-time All-Star Evan Longoria (729,092) of the Tampa Bay Rays. With four different teams currently represented in the A.L. infield, the 85th All-Star Game could mark the first time since 2003, and the 19th time overall since fan balloting began in 1970, that the four A.L. fan-elected starting infielders come from four different teams.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters continues to pace the field behind the plate, drawing 1,235,369 votes to lead seven-time All-Star Brian McCann (827,200) of the Yankees and Athletics backstop Derek Norris (813,053). Wieters, a two-time All-Star, is seeking his first fan-elected start and would join Terry Kennedy (1987) as the only catchers in Orioles history to earn a fan election. Wieters, who is batting .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI on the season, is currently on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Along with Cruz, the duo is aiming to give the Orioles multiple starters in consecutive years (Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones in 2013) for the first time since 1997 (Alomar, Ripken, Brady Anderson) and 1998 (Alomar, Ripken).

MLB’s All-Star Balloting Program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. The last two years represent the two highest totals in balloting history, including a record 40.2 million ballots cast in 2012. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at MLB’s 30 ballparks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting.

In addition, fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. The All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian is available in English and Spanish, and offers audio CAPTCHA functionality for visually-impaired fans. Banco BHD sponsors online All-Star balloting in the Dominican Republic, making Spanish-language ballots available to fans in the Dominican Republic via LasMayores.com, the official Spanish-language Web site of Major League Baseball.

Every Major League Club began its in-stadium balloting no later than May 12th. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes no later than June 26th, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 Club Web sites and their mobile devices until Thursday, July 3rd at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2014 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events, and VIP on-field access to watch batting practice before the All-Star Game with an MLB legend.

For the sixth consecutive year, the ballot features the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans have the opportunity to select three players in each League who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll is also available online at MLB.com. The 2014 Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 p.m. (CT) on Monday, July 14th. The 10 American League candidates are Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays; Carlos Beltran of the New York Yankees; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers; Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners; 2013 Home Run Derby Champion Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics; Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles; Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers; All-Star Ambassador Joe Mauer of the Twins; David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox; and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 10 National League candidates are Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds; Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves; Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants; Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins; Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies; and David Wright of the New York Mets.

The 2014 American League and National League All-Star Teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5th-6th, with further details to follow.   The A.L. All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the N.L. All-Star Team will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – N.L. skipper Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals and A.L. manager John Farrell of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Immediately following the announcement of the American League and National League All-Star rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each League’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each League over the balloting period. Now in its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile phones.

This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 Club sites via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15th. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

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Matt Wieters

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Matt Wieters Has Throwing Session, Sees Progress With Elbow

Posted on 31 May 2014 by Brandon Sacks

The Orioles have finally gotten a bit of good news to the club.  Amid a four game losing streak and some borderline atrocious play, there is finally something to smile about.  Matt Wieters, who has been on the DL since May 11, has finally picked up a baseball again.  He had his first throwing session down in Houston before the second game of the series against the Astros.

As you’ll probably remember, Wieters has had a problem with his throwing elbow, which led to some speculation about his ulnar collateral ligament and whether he would need Tommy John surgery to repair it.  There was word that he was receiving platelet rich plasma injections, which is what many pitchers receive in order to avoid the surgery.

It sounds like good news to have Wieters back to throwing.  He estimated that he threw about 25 pitches during the session and felt fine, which bodes well for his future.  It looks like he will be able to avoid Tommy John surgery, and he probably will be back to the Orioles sooner rather than later.

Right now, the birds could use anything to gain some momentum.  Since the second game against the Brewers, their bats have gone cold, putting up only five runs in the next three games.  Both of Wieters’ replacements, Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph, have limited experience in the orange and black, but neither have done incredibly well at the plate.  Hundley is batting .214/.313/.214 in 16 plate appearances and Joseph is batting .040/.172/.040 in 30 plate appearances.  As a comparison, before being placed on the DL, Wieters was batting .308/.339/.500 in 112 plate appearances.  In other words, the Orioles are missing a solid bat in the lineup right now.

Hopefully, the return of Wieters will be exactly what the Orioles need to finally return to the offensive powerhouse that they should be.  Barring any future injuries, the Orioles would finally have the entire starting lineup together for the first time all year, which could be just what they need to push back to the top of the AL East.

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Hundley

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Orioles Sign New Catcher, Could Spell Trouble For Wieters

Posted on 24 May 2014 by Brandon Sacks

It was fairly well known that the Orioles were in the market for another catcher.  It was pretty much expected that this catcher was going to replace Caleb Joseph in the depth chart.  Most people believed that this new catcher would be backing up Steve Clevenger.  However, this was not exactly the case.

Before the third game in the series against the Indians, the birds announced a trade with the San Diego Padres.  In exchange for Troy Patton, the Orioles received catcher Nick Hundley and cash considerations.  That’s right.  The Orioles just traded for a starting catcher.

Troy Patton served a 25 game suspension at the beginning of the season for testing positive for amphetamines.  Since coming off his suspension, he made 9 appearances in the orange and black.  He allowed four walks and picked up five strikeouts while only pitching 6.2 innings to an ERA of 8.10 and a WHIP of 1.950.

In exchange for Patton, the Orioles picked up Nick Hundley.  In his seven years with the Padres, he has caught 27.7% of runners trying to steal a base, which is around the league average.  As a comparison, Wieters has caught 32.5% of runners in his seven years with the Orioles.  Hundley has only committed five more errors than Wieters during that span.

Here is the problem.  Wieters is scheduled to come off the 15-day DL on May 26, but does not look like he is ready to come off immediately.  That would be fine, but the Orioles already had two catchers on their roster.  If they had signed another catcher to simply replace Joseph, that would have just been seen as a simple transaction.  The issue is that the birds traded for a starter in the last year of his contract.  This might signal that there is a serious problem with Wieters’ elbow that could keep him out of the game much longer.

Wieters has been resting his elbow for the past two weeks in order to try and avoid surgery.  A few days ago, Wieters received a platelet rich plasma injection, which is normally given to pitchers that are trying to avoid Tommy John surgery.  Putting these two parts together, Wieters could very well be heading to getting the surgery, which would end his season.  If he were to get this surgery, it would be a huge loss for the Orioles.  Wieters has hit over 20 home runs in each of the past three seasons.  The birds will lose a serious power threat if he ends up getting season ending surgery.

While the Orioles will once again have a starting catcher behind the plate, it seems like there are some more serious problems at hand.  Hopefully this trade is just to unload a pitcher that could not do his job rather than to pick up someone for damage control.

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Matt-Wieters-SI

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60 Greatest Members of the Orioles: 60-56

Posted on 19 May 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

If you missed the beginning of the “60 Greatest Members of the Orioles”, it covered the Honorable Mentions–the fellas who were worthy of being in the conversation, but ultimately failed to make the cut.  At last, here is the beginning of the list:

60.  Dennis Martinez, Pitcher

During his 11-year career in Baltimore, “El Presidente” recorded double-digit wins in six of those seasons.  An upper-echelon starter in the late 70s, Martinez was a large piece to the ’79 AL Championship team.

59.  Nick Markakis, Right Fielder

A pitching prospect out of college, Markakis quickly moved through the Orioles system and served as the lone bright spot several historically bad O’s teams.  While his power has diminished from the projections back in the mid-2000s, Markakis is a lock for the Orioles Hall of Fame for the simple fact of tenure and consistency during a time of turmoil and failure.

58.  Matt Wieters, Catcher

The Georgia Tech alum has never quite become “Mauer with power,” at least not to the degree that many expected when he was taken fifth overall in 2007.  With that being said, Wieters has been a mainstay in Baltimore since 2009 and a proven home-grown commodity–something the Orioles had previously struggled with in the 2000s.  Should Wieters sign a contract extension and remain in Baltimore, he’ll go down as the greatest catcher in club history.  

57.  Frank Cashen, General Manager

As the Director of Baseball Operations, Cashen played a major role in bringing Oriole-great Frank Robinson to town, despite the fact that Harry Dalton–who was GM at the time–routinely receives the notoriety.  Cashen’s best days were in New York, as the GM of the Mets, however, his Baltimore roots and contribution to multiple Orioles’ World Series makes him a lock for this list.

56. Rich Dauer, Second Baseman

Dauer, a projected big-time hitter coming through the O’s system in the mid-70s, never panned out in terms of being much of a threat at the dish; however, he was a fan-fave and his presence through the late 70s and early 80s was a big part of the team’s chemistry and its ability to rebound after losing the 1979 World Series to the Pirates.  He currently manages the AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

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B&B Big Story Banter: Gausman & Wieters

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B&B Big Story Banter: Gausman & Wieters

Posted on 16 May 2014 by Brett Dickinson

By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen

BD: Barry after a disappointing week from the Orioles, there have been some interesting developments at Camden Yards.  The first one involves the handling of the pitching staff, as players have been consistently sent down and brought up for the past couple weeks for fresh arms.  Most importantly the team’s top prospect found himself in the big leagues for just one start on Wednesday, May 14, against the Detroit Tigers at home.  After an underwhelming performance (five earned runs in four innings), he was immediately sent back down to the Norfolk Tides to make room for relief pitcher Evan Meek. So I ask you Barry, what do you make of the Orioles handling of Gausman and are they on the fast track of ruining another highly touted pitching prospect?

BK: The Baltimore Orioles have not had a good track record when it comes to the development of young pitchers, and Wednesday’s performance from Gausman was more of the same. With the Orioles in the midst of thirteen consecutive games, Chris Tillman nursing a minor hamstring injury, and a possible suspension for Bud Norris it made sense for the Orioles to call up a starting pitcher from Triple-A Norfolk for Wednesday’s game. However, the decision for it to be Gausman was puzzling for many reasons. Gausman started the month on the minor league disabled list, and he was not on full rest. Combine that with the 12:35 pm start and Justin Verlander taking the mound for the Tigers, the odds were not in Gausman’s favor.

Kevin Gausman is one of the best pitching prospects in the major leagues, and the Orioles should focus on maximizing his potential rather than risking his development for an early May game against the best team in the American League. While Gausman has had some success at the major league level out of the bullpen, the ultimate goal is for him to become a member of the starting rotation as early as this summer, and as late as Opening Day of 2015.

If the Orioles continue to be at or near the top of the American League East, the team could be faced with a predicament come September. In the thick of a playoff race, is it worth calling up Gausman to pitch important innings out of the bullpen, even though he is being groomed as a starter? Only time will tell. But if it means the Orioles are competitive, then it is a good problem to have.

Injuries have become far too common this season. While the Orioles have been fortunate enough to avoid injuries the starting pitchers, the same cannot be said for the infielders. Catcher Matt Wieters is the latest Oriole to head to the disabled list. Brett, can the Orioles win without Wieters’ steady presence, and are you concerned that the catcher can maintain his longevity? 

Matt WietersBD: Well the good news only comes with more bad for the Orioles, as they finally got Chris Davis back on the field, only to lose Matt Wieters.  This team has not had its starting lineup together all season, but still are hanging on towards the top of the AL East.  But the major issue here is Wieters long term health.  It only figures that he would get off to his hottest start of any season during his career, batting .308 with 7 HRs and 18 RBIs, to be shut down in mid-May.  This shoulder strain certainly reiterates the idea that he may not last as a full-time catcher for much longer in his career.

Defensively, his real strength is the ability to control runners on the base paths with his strong arm.  Without that, he is nothing more than average backstop, without great movement to block balls in the dirt. His value for the team and future free agency drastically drops if he cannot throw out runners.

Though a visit with noted sports physician, Dr. James Andrews, brought positive news that Wieters should not need surgery that would have ended his season.  Concerns do arise if this strain will linger and hinder his performance for the rest of 2014.  The team has already reportedly been on the market for a catcher to platoon with Steve Clevenger.   Which is never a good sign for the near future at the position and the team’s confidence that Wieters will make his way back to full strength.

It is a shame that this has happened after he has finally turned things around at the plate, but I’m pretty I have warned about this in the past.  Buck Showalter’s overuse of his catcher may be catching up to him and Wieters may never be the same.

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Wieters to avoid surgery on ailing right elbow

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Wieters to avoid surgery on ailing right elbow

Posted on 07 May 2014 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 2:10 p.m.)

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is in the midst of the best offensive start of his career, but concerning news that surfaced Tuesday caused many to fear his season might be in jeopardy.

The news was more encouraging a day later as multiple outlets reported the two-time Gold Glove catcher will not need surgery for his sore right elbow. Wieters visited renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday to have his elbow examined as the Orioles wanted to rule out the worst-case scenario of an ulnar collateral ligament tear, an injury that likely would have required Tommy John surgery.

Manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Wieters underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Monday. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the concern was with the flexor mass and not Wieters’ UCL.

“He’s been getting it treated for a while,” Showalter told reporters in St. Petersburg Tuesday night. “We just want to make sure we know what we’re dealing with. He’ll be back for the game. We just want to follow up. Hopefully he’s catching for us [on Wednesday].”

It appears that Wieters will serve as the club’s designated hitter at least in the short term as he rests an elbow that’s given him trouble over the first five weeks of the season. The 27-year-old was sidelined for a game with forearm soreness in Toronto two weeks ago and has thrown out just one of 12 runners trying to steal this season, a significant drop from his career rate of throwing out 33 percent of potential base stealers.

Triple-A Norfolk catcher Caleb Joseph was scratched from the Tides’ original lineup in Louisville on Tuesday, an indication that he would be joining the Orioles in St. Petersburg. Baltimore outrighted infielder David Adams to Double-A Bowie last weekend to create an open spot on the 40-man roster.

Wieters was in the lineup serving as the Orioles’ designated hitter in the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night. Even though it appears that Wieters will be avoiding a trip to the disabled list, it’s possible the Orioles will still purchase Joseph’s contract to serve as the backup catcher to Steve Clevenger for the time being.

Needless to say, the loss of Wieters behind the plate and in the lineup for any significant time would have been a devastating blow to the Orioles as he is batting .341 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in over 99 plate appearances.

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smith

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Nelson Cruz and Steve Smith: An Oriole and a Raven searching for redemption

Posted on 26 April 2014 by johngallo

One man wants to forget his past; the other is motivated by it.

One man is sorry for the mistake he made; the other is adamant he did nothing wrong to be sent packing.

One makes a living hitting home runs; the other earns his paycheck scoring touchdowns.

One was a strike away from winning a World Series in 2011; the other was denied a championship on a field goal with four seconds left in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Nelson Cruz, the Orioles’ designated hitter and outfielder, and Steve Smith, who Ravens fans want to be the second coming of receiver Anquan Boldin, hope their futures in Baltimore are as bright as their pasts. Cruz made the All-Star Game twice as a Texas Ranger, while Smith was named All-Pro twice as a Carolina Panther.

Two players, two sports, two careers that took unlikely turns, yet both are connected by a single word in Baltimore: redemption.

Turbulent, yet successful pasts

Nelson Cruz is off to a strong start in Baltimore, as he led the Orioles in homers (6), runs batted-in (23), runs scored (16) and on-base percentage (.391) through 22 games. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Cruz’s time in Texas was over following the 2013 season, when he turned down the Rangers’ one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer after serving a 50-game suspension last season for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy in connection with the sport’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America, an anti-aging clinic in Florida.

Smith’s 13-season run in Carolina was marred by punching two teammates – receiver Anthony Bright during a film room meeting in 2002 and defensive back Ken Lucas at a training camp practice in 2008 – and highlighted by leading the squad to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl appearance in 2004. It ended in March when the Panthers felt he was no longer worth a $7 million hit to their salary cap.

Cruz, 33, is from Monte Cristi, a poor city in the baseball-rich Dominican Republic, where he worked in his uncle’s shop as a mechanic from age 10 to 16. He played professionally for three seasons in the Dominican Republic after signing as an undrafted free agent by the Mets in 1998. In 2000, he arrived in the U.S. after being traded to Oakland – not bad for a teenager who grew up idolizing Michael Jordan before falling in love with baseball.

Smith, 34, is from inner-city Los Angeles, where he never took the SAT while becoming an all-California Interscholastic Federation receiver at University High School. He took the bus to his $5.75 an hour job running the cash register and sweeping floors at Taco Bell, where worked from his junior in high school until he left nearby Santa Monica College. That’s where he and teammate and future All-Pro receiver Chad Johnson had college recruiters flocking to the junior college. Smith earned a scholarship to the University of Utah, where he dominated the Mountain West conference en route to being drafted in the third round (74th overall) by the Panthers in 2001.

Both have traversed the country en route to Baltimore, which represents where they hope to find redemption, yet could be the last place they ever play.

Think about it: What team will sign Cruz if he flops as an Oriole after putting up amazing numbers that could have been the result of using performance-enhancing drugs? What team will sign Smith if he can no longer get open as he did so effortlessly when he was among the NFL’s best receivers as a Panther?

Cruz’s road to Baltimore included stops in Oakland, Milwaukee and Texas, where he highlighted his eight years in as a Ranger by belting six homers and driving in 13 runs en route to being named the most valuable player of American League Championship Series in 2011. His six homers and 13 RBIs are major league records for a championship series. The Rangers lost the World Series to St. Louis in seven games, after being a strike away from a title-clinching win in Game 6.

“Whatever happened in the past, I look to move forward and have a great year with the Baltimore Orioles,” Cruz said at his press conference, where he was joined by eight Oriole teammates after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with February.

Smith had just one stop as a professional, Carolina, where all he did was set more than 30 career, single-season and single-game team records on offense and special teams, including becoming the franchise’s career leader in total touchdowns (75), receiving touchdowns (67), receptions (836) and receiving yards (12,197).

“Steve Smith has been one of the NFL’s finest receivers for over a decade and has been the face of the franchise for a large part of the team’s history,” Carolina General Manager Dave Gettleman told the team’s website after waiving Smith. “This was not an easy decision. As a team, we made a step forward last year; however, we are also a team in transition, which is a part of the NFL.”

Steve Smith is adjusting to life as a Raven by attending voluntary workouts, where he’s jelling with teammates, learning the playbook and developing a hatred for Baltimore’s biggest rival. (Courtesy of Baltimore Ravens)

When he was released, the five-time Pro Bowler vowed he’d make the Panthers pay, claiming they’ll be “blood and guts everywhere” when he plays them. The teams meet in Week 4 on Sept. 28 at M&T Bank Stadium.

“When you look at the Ravens, they’ve had an amount of great success with integrating older players and younger players and fusing them together and understanding the right combination,” Smith told the Ravens’ website after signing a three-year deal worth a reported $11.5 million. “That part is very intriguing to me and also brings a challenge that I’m up for….They are getting an old guy in age, but a young guy’s spirit and work ethic.”

What’s next?

Where would the Orioles be right now without Cruz? Maybe not 11-11 and in second place in the American League East following a loss to the Royals on April 25. Cruz leads the team in homers (6), runs batted-in (23), runs scored (16) and on-base percentage (.391). His .588 slugging percentage is tied with Steve Clevenger, who has played in seven games compared to Cruz’s 21.

“Nelson is a great hitter,” catcher Matt Wieters told reporters after Cruz blasted two homers during a 10-8 win over Toronto on April 23. “I always had trouble calling pitches against him so I’m glad he’s on our team. He’s a huge addition to the middle of our lineup.”

“We all know what he’s capable of,” Manager Buck Showalter said of Cruz after the game.

Meantime, Smith is adjusting to life as a Raven by attending voluntary workouts, where he’s jelling with teammates, learning the playbook and developing a hatred for Baltimore’s biggest rival.

“My dislike 4 @steelers will grow everyday I’m in the #caste,” Smith tweeted.

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Hardy moving closer to return to Orioles lineup

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Hardy moving closer to return to Orioles lineup

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles lineup finally broke out in a 14-5 win on Tuesday and received good news about the status of shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Though the 31-year-old was sidelined for the fourth time in five games while dealing with lower back spasms, manager Buck Showalter said prior to Tuesday’s game that Hardy would have been available to come off the bench if necessary. Of course, the convincing win over the New York Yankees made Hardy’s use unnecessary as the Orioles provided more than enough offense to support a shaky outing from starter Wei-Yin Chen.

“A lot better, much more available,” Showalter told reporters of Hardy’s status prior to Tuesday’s win. “I’m optimistic he’d be an option [Tuesday]. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. I wouldn’t have said that [Monday]. He’s improved, very close to being ready to start. … You can tell just by his face. So that’s good.”

With All-Star third baseman Manny Machado still on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from offseason knee surgery, the Orioles have been without a pair of Gold Glove defenders on the left side of the infield.

Left with a short bench, Showalter has been forced to use Ryan Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi, and Jonathan Schoop at three infield positions, but the trio combined to go 8-for-15 with four runs scored on Tuesday to ease concerns about the bottom of the order.

With the Orioles scheduled to play a night game Thursday to conclude their three-game set with New York before an off-day, Showalter could elect to keep Hardy on the bench for one more game to be on the safe side before the Orioles return to Camden Yards to begin a six-game homestand.

Chen struggles again

Lost in the offensive explosion occurring in Tuesday’s win was another lackluster effort by Chen, who earned the win despite allowing four earned runs and nine hits in five innings of work.

In two starts, Chen has allowed eight earned runs and 21 hits over 10 2/3 innings. The Taiwanese lefty has yet to issue a walk this season, but he’s often been up in the strike zone while catching too much of the plate.

The Yankees and Red Sox did have their share of hits that weren’t exactly clobbered against Chen — suggesting he’s been unlucky on top of his overall ineffectiveness — but his start to the 2014 season continues a disturbing trend from the end of last season. Over his last nine starts dating back to Aug. 27, 2013, Chen has allowed 72 hits over 46 innings of work while posting a 6.65 earned run average and a 1.85 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

Of course, Chen’s track record over the first two-plus seasons of his career suggests he’s much better than what he’s shown recently, but his lack of command within the strike zone has been alarming.

Bats finally wake up

After being held to just 22 runs in their first seven contests, the Orioles plated 14 runs and bashed 20 hits to quell premature panic about the offense. The last time the Orioles collected 20 hits was May 10, 2011.

All nine starters collected at least one hit and all but one (Matt Wieters) had multi-hit games. Wieters, Adam Jones, and Delmon Young each hit home runs to match the Orioles’ total of three long balls in the first seven contests of the year.

Wieters and Young each collected three runs batted in against Yankees pitching.

 

 

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