Tag Archive | "matt wieters"

Orioles Need to Practice What They Preach

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Orioles Need to Practice What They Preach

Posted on 13 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson

We have heard it all offseason; we have heard it for the past decade. After Orioles owner Peter Angelos was quoted saying Baltimore is a “limited market.” GM Dan Duquette has reiterated those sentiments, discussing the minute “resources” and trying to stay “competitive” against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.  

 

We all know the real story there; the owner refuses to open his wallet, knowing he is going to take $3.50 from every household in the Baltimore area for his MASN network. The reports circle every offseason how much Angelos grosses from his TV deal, but we all know that money will never be re-allocated to the roster, while he is in charge.

 

In the end, he is the owner and that is his prerogative; he can basically run his “business” however he so chooses (even if that means spitting in the face of those who fatten his pockets; but that’s a different story, which is already well reported by the WNST staff). If Angelos is going to stick to that “business plan” (if you want to call it that), then the team must operate as such.

 

Every offseason for the past ten or so years, we hear about those players that the Orioles are “interested” in acquiring.  Whether it is Mark Teixeira or Zack Greinke or Nelson Cruz, everyone knows the real story; the team will not pony up enough to garner their services, but cry that those players would not sign in Baltimore. So as a fan base, this is a plea for the the organization to stop with this nonsense.

 

It is time for the Orioles front office to embrace the “limited market” mantra they have been spewing for years. Stop acting as if the team will be actual players in the offseason; start acting like the team that will build from within.

 

Andy McPhail started that idea years ago; after moving Erik Bedard for Adam Jones (a move that panned out pretty damn well).  But those are the smart (and tough) decisions the organization has evaded, since their resurgence in 2012.  Take emotion out of your moves; basically make decisions with your head and not your heart.

 

The team traded away Closer Jim Johnson, one year too late and could not capitalize on his value at the time.  A contending team like the Dodgers or Tigers or Cardinals (I know I’ve said this before) would have given up an everyday player or at least some top level prospects in return if they would have pulled the trigger last offseason. Instead, the Orioles received a struggling 25 year, who was demoted to Triple A in 2013.

 

The same goes for fan favorite Matt Wieters; he’s been a gold-glover and an All-Star, but is he really worth the $100 that his agent (noted Orioles pain in the ass, Scott Boras) will ask for. The question is now what can you get in return for an overworked catcher, who is slow and cannot hit above .250?  If they would have considered moving Wieters before last season, they would have returned several top prospects and MLB players, while his value was at an all-time high.  Now, no one can even be  sure Wieters can get back even one everyday player or starting pitcher.

 

The point is that if you want to pretend that Baltimore is such a “limited” market than put your business plan in place as such.  Do not keep stringing along the hopes of fans holding out that the team will actually sign a Shin Shoo-Choo; start following the same model of successful “limited” market teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Before last season, they traded away a pretty good top-of-the-rotation starter in James Shields. In return they only received…the top prospect in baseball in OF Wil Myers and the Royals best pitching prospect, Jake Odorizzi.  

 

David PriceNow the team is in the same bind with former Cy Young Award Winner, David Price.  Since their actual resources are limited, they understand they cannot retain him under their budget.  In turn, the Rays, a perennial winning franchise in baseball, is looking to deal one of the top five best pitchers in the entire MLB.

 

And why? Because they understand value and have a business plan in place for the next several years.  They are stocked with young talent on throughout their farm system and continually replace players, like Price or Shields, with more top prospects.  

 

The Orioles brass seem to have little grasp of this concept, especially after standing still for the past two offseasons.  The tough moves are always the hardest, but will always help in the long scheme of things.  If the front office has no intentions of keeping around some of the team’s “star” players in the not too distant future, (i.e. Chris Davis) then why not make the tough decision now.  

 

Chris Davis ShirtIf the slugger is not in your future plans or budget, then why not recoup as much as possible for players the Orioles will have control over for the next seven-eight years.  Teams would be lining up with their best offers to acquire the services of a power-hitting first baseman with two years left of team control.

 

But then again this is the Orioles we are talking about. They will bank you parking your butt in the seats at Camden Yards for the next two seasons, to watch “Crush” hit bombs towards the warehouse.  All the while, you handing them money for tickets and hot dogs and beers and merchandise.

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Jim Johnson Delivers Orioles Their Favorite Kind of Save

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Jim Johnson Delivers Orioles Their Favorite Kind of Save

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

The downside of high expectations is the potential for disappointment. It’s a lesson that Baltimore sports fans know all too well. Maybe as Orioles fans we should learn to appreciate that by obliterating our expectations, the team has spared us the possibility of disappointment. After all 2012 was a magical baseball season in Baltimore, mostly because it came out of nowhere; mostly because it came at a point where our expectations as fans had reached their all-time low. Clearly if we had believed going in that the Orioles were a playoff caliber team, if they had given us any reason at all to expect success, then a disappointing flame out in the ALDS would have been nice…but far from magical.

On Monday, the Orioles traded the arguable MVP of the 2012 season for a nondescript middle infielder and a likely disappointment to be named later. The Orioles traded away 101 saves in the last 2 seasons for 1 big save, somewhere in the ballpark of $10 million in 2014.

 

Now before we get too carried away with the tales of Jim Johnson, departing hero, let’s also remember that Johnson’s 9 blown saves and 8 losses in 2013 on the heels of his playing the goat in the 2012 ALDS had more than worn out his welcome with the fans of the Orioles. The truth of the matter is that the Orioles had to trade Jim Johnson. The unfortunate part of that truth is that they had to trade him 1 year ago, or 7 months from now, not on Monday. The familiar truth of the matter is that other than his $10 million projected salary for 2014, there were no good reasons to trade Jim Johnson when they did, with his value at an all-time low.

 

Perhaps the rumors were true, and the Orioles will have to live with not parlaying Johnson to the Tigers last year for Rick Porcello, or some other real baseball player. Perhaps Johnson’s overuse by the team was the culprit for his failures at the end of 2012 and throughout 2013, and if the Orioles had paced him better in 2014 there would have been a chance to trade him in June or July for something of value. Perhaps the A’s (notorious for trading closers) are looking to do just that. Undoubtedly, there has never been a worse time to trade Johnson than the time at which the Orioles actually decided to do it, and thus the move serves as little more than a salary dump.

 

Last off-season was a tough one for Orioles fans to take, as they sat on their hands after giving fans their first taste of contention in a decade and a half. Still it may have been prudent for the Orioles, having seen so many improbable returns on players we weren’t altogether sure about, to give it another season to see if their talent was real. And while 2013 ended short of the playoffs, we did indeed see that the talent on hand was for real (for the most part). Yet here we sit, with plenty of off-season left no doubt, but seemingly on the way to another winter of disappointment.

 

Jim Johnson, a one time valuable Major League commodity, was traded away for nothing, Matt Wieters another player with substantially diminished value appears to be next, and the likelihood of getting another Adam Jones caliber “home town discount” on an incumbent player in a long-term deal is for now, hopeful at best.

 

In going “all in” by adding talent during the 2013 season, there was reason to hope that the Orioles had learned a lesson. The Orioles made 3 “major” pitching acquisitions to sure up an undermanned staff in their push for last year’s playoffs. Two of those 3 players could have been signed in the off-season just for the cost of their contracts, without forfeiture of a draft pick and without the need to trade away prospects. After sitting on their hands through the winter of 2012-13 the Orioles paid for their inactivity in prospects.

 

Boston meanwhile, after a 2012 fire sale filled out their roster with 8 players that anyone could have had in free agency. None of those players got a commitment beyond 3-years, and none cost a draft pick. The Red Sox added those players to a nucleus not much better (if at all) than the one that the Orioles had and walked away with a World Series title (and an extra draft pick if Stephen Drew signs somewhere else) for their efforts.

 

Maybe the Orioles will put the $10 million they saved in Jim Johnson’s contract to good use and prove my cynicism unfounded. Maybe they’ll hold onto Matt Wieters for long enough to see some of his value return before trading him away. Maybe they’ll lock up a few of their current stars to long-term deals and assure a competitive nucleus while we await the development of  “The Cavalry Part II”. But there’s no reason to expect it. Therein lies the strength of the organization.

 

Those of us who remain loyal to the orange and black do so despite their best efforts to discourage us at every turn. It makes us much happier and more appreciative when they actually do right by us, because we’ve been conditioned not to expect it.

 

Let’s face it, the Orioles were just bailed out of a contract by the notoriously thrifty Oakland A’s. Talk about an all-time low…

 

 

 

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O’s tender contracts to six, agree to terms with Pearce, Reimold

Posted on 03 December 2013 by WNST Staff

The Orioles today announced that they have tendered contracts to six of their arbitration eligible players: CA MATT WIETERS1B CHRIS DAVISRHP’s TOMMY HUNTER and BUD NORRIS and LHP’s BRIAN MATUSZ and TROY PATTON. Additionally, OF’s STEVE PEARCE and NOLAN REIMOLD have agreed to terms on contracts for 2014, and RHP EDDIE GAMBOA and OF JASON PRIDIE were not tendered contracts by the club.

Wieters, 27, batted .235/.287/.417 with 22 home runs and 79 RBI in 148 games in 2013.

Davis, 27, finished third in the American League MVP voting, leading the major leagues with 53 home runs and 138 RBI while batting .286/.370/.634 in 160 games.

Hunter, 27, was 6-5 with a 2.81 ERA (86.1IP, 27ER) in 68 relief appearances.

Norris, 28, went 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA (50.2IP, 27ER) in 11 games (nine starts) for the Orioles after being acquired from Houston on July 31. He went 10-12 with a 4.18 ERA (176.2IP, 82ER) in 32 games (30 starts) in 2013.

Matusz, 26, was 2-1 with a 3.53 ERA (51.0IP, 20ER) in 65 appearances.

Patton, 28, went 2-0 with a 3.70 ERA (56.0IP, 23ER) in 56 outings.

Pearce, 30, hit .261/.362/.420 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 44 games.

Reimold, 30, played in 40 games, batting .195/.250/.335 with five home runs and 12 RBI.

Gamboa, 28, had his contract selected on November 20. He went a combined 6-11 with a 4.43 ERA (142.1IP, 70ER) and 114 strikeouts for Double-A Bowie (16 GS) and Triple-A Norfolk (nine GS) in 2013.

Pridie, 30, had his contract selected on September 25 after batting .269/.333/.434 in 118 games for Triple-A Norfolk. He went 2-for-10 in four games with the Orioles.

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Trade Wieters: Who Said That?

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Trade Wieters: Who Said That?

Posted on 20 November 2013 by Brett Dickinson

WietersThis could be my “I told you so moment;” well maybe it is a little.  But the Orioles have finally decided to make the smart business decision and consider trading away catcher, Matt Wieters.  I have been reporting for years that move would be in their best interest (found here and here and here; yeah I’ve talked about it a lot).    The “Mauer with Power” aura has left Camden Yards and the fan base seems to be finally on board to move on from the once top prospect in baseball.

Though good defensively, he does not offer enough at the plate; except for the occasional untimely Home Run.  Wieters has an excellent arm, controlling runners on the base path, but is not mobile enough to consistently block bad pitches and pop out of his stance to snag tough foul balls.  Questions have arisen over the years on how long he could even last at catcher because of his large frame.  He’s not half the athlete of Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer (a top QB recruit coming out of high school), who has been forced to move to first base this season.

So there is my spiel on why to move on from the former Gold-Glover, but most have already seen that over the past two seasons (and called me an idiot for saying so).  Now let’s look into possible trade partners for Wieters, who is a Scott Boras client, meaning a team will have to pony up to extend him beyond this season.

Though Matt Wieters trade value is now at an all-time low for his career (unlike a year ago, when I first started this campaign), he is still an upper-echelon catcher, compared to what is available.  The Orioles should be able to at least get either an every day player or starting pitcher in return in any deal.  But after Texas traded 2B, Ian Kinsler (who would have been an ideal fit with the hole at the position for the Orioles) to the Detroit Tigers, for 1B, Prince Fielder, there is one less option in the pool for Dan Duquette.

 

Matt Wieters to the Los Angeles Angels for OF/1B/DH Mark Trumbo.

Both teams would benefit greatly from this swap, as the Orioles sorely need a right-handed power bat in the middle of their lineup and the Angels get an excellent game-caller to help along their porous pitching issues.  The Angels will also save money in the long term, because they will be line to extend Trumbo and OF, Mike Trout (who is the best all-around player in baseball), within a 12 month span.

In acquiring Trumbo, he is not set to hit free agency until 2017, giving the team control for several years, while their core still in their prime (and set to make a World Series push). Trumbo offers the Orioles more financial flexibility in the near future; something Peter Angelos surely would sign off on.  He is also a power hitter from the right side of the plate, while being able to fill in holes in either LF or DH (and possibly playing the occasional first base to rest Chris Davis).

 

Jeff SamardzijaMatt Wieters to the Chicago Cubs for SP Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs are another team in desperate need of a back stop to control the game behind the plate.  Add in the direction of their front office (with Theo Henry’s track record of trades) and they have the funds and means to re-up Wieters contract.  Chicago has already expressed willingness to move on from their No. 1 starter (with trade rumors with the Diamondbacks), in order to upgrade their lineup and defense. Though Wieters is not a good hitter, he is still an upgrade over Wellington Castillo (the only catcher on their roster), with his power numbers and ability to bat from both sides of the plate.

In Samardzija, the Orioles are not exactly getting back the ace they desperately need, but a pitcher who is willing to be a stopper every fifth day.  Though he struggled in the second half last season, he has proven to hold his own against some of the better pitchers in the NL.  He is also in the last year of his contract, so any deal will include a sign-and-trade, which could lock up the starter for the next several years.

 

Erasmo RamirezMatt Wieters to the Seattle Mariners for SP Erasmo Ramirez and Prospect(s)

The Mariners may have the worst catching situation in the entire MLB, with the failed experiment of Jesus Montero behind the plate.  They are left with a plethora of young talented pitchers (including former Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez), including several prospects ready to break through in the big leagues.  Though the Mariners have Mark Zunino (a top catching prospect) making his way to the majors, he could develop behind Wieters for the next couple of seasons, until the Baltimore catcher needs to be moved from behind the plate.

In return, Baltimore is receiving a highly touted pitching prospect, who is the most Major-League ready in their organization.  He struggled this past season but at only 23, has plenty of growth in the big-leagues awaiting him.  Ramirez will be under team control for several seasons, adding into the young starting core of Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.  The Mariners may need to add in another low-end prospect or two to make the deal fair.

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Orioles’ hot stove rumblings surround Beltran, Wieters, Markakis

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Orioles’ hot stove rumblings surround Beltran, Wieters, Markakis

Posted on 16 November 2013 by WNST Staff

Rumblings out of MLB’s annual fall GM meetings included some interesting rumors surrounding the Baltimore Orioles late this week.

The first from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is particularly interesting…

Carlos Beltran will turn 37 in April, but is coming off a season with slash lines of .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI. It’s not known immediately what the market is for the outfielder with a propensity for big postseason hits, but considering Marlon Byrd got a 2 year, $16 million deal and it also 36 you would have to assume the market for Beltran would be greater.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are looking to dump a salary in order to pursue Beltran, throwing out the name of Matt Wieters as a possibility. This is logical considering a report of his from earlier in the week regarding the catcher and 1B Chris Davis, a fellow Scott Boras client.

(Rosenthal was clearly referring to closer Jim Johnson there.)

The other issue surrounding Beltran is that he isn’t a left fielder, the only outfield position the Birds’ currently have open. So how could the O’s both trade away a large salary and get Beltran on the field? From SNY New York…

SNY did go on to report that the Orioles are “not eager” to deal their former first round pick and Gold Glove winning right fielder.

So Orioles fans, what do you think of the rumors surrounding the Birds in the early stages of the Hot Stove season?

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It’s not his agent’s fault that Wieters hasn’t re-signed in Baltimore

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It’s not his agent’s fault that Wieters hasn’t re-signed in Baltimore

Posted on 14 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

I said on Wednesday’s show the Orioles only have two players I would truly deem “untouchable” — Adam Jones and Manny Machado.

Granted, both of those players have warts.  Jones is still a streaky hitter who has a tendency to go weeks at a time swinging at bad pitches and Machado is a great defensive player but only a good offensive player at this point.  Still, I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything, unless his name sounded a lot like Clayton Kershaw or Miguel Cabrera.

Matt Wieters is a trade commodity for a variety of reasons.  FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Birds are open to trading Wieters.  And they should be.  But, they shouldn’t trade him just because they haven’t yet been able to re-sign him.  That’s a typical Orioles move, frankly.  They low ball a guy, he doesn’t take it…they up their low-ball offer the next year…he doesn’t take it.  And then they say, “OK, well, we’ll trade him.”

That’s the wrong approach.

Of course, the words “wrong approach” and “Orioles” collide in the same sentence a lot.

In this case, the Orioles are using the right approach if they think they can fleece a team for Wieters…but that shouldn’t be connected with their ability to sign him to a new deal.  If they want Wieters on their team for the long-term, they should make every attempt to sign him to a REAL contract.

Folks who follow baseball will say, “No, Drew, Scott Boras won’t let Wieters sign now.”   That, my friends, is a bunch of baloney.  Scott Boras doesn’t OWN Matt Wieters.  He REPRESENTS him.  If the Orioles called Scott Boras right now and said, “Name your price and Wieters can stay” – just as a function of sniffing out the real scenario — Boras would call you back and say, “We’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

This silly notion that Boras won’t “let” Wieters sign in Baltimore is absurd.  Wieters owns his rights…Boras doesn’t.  The Orioles have admittedly tried twice to sign Wieters and failed.  But, Wieters and Boras didn’t say, “Don’t call us again…we’re not signing for any amount until Matt becomes a free agent.”  They said, “No, that offer isn’t good enough.  Thanks anyway.”

Adam Jones is a perfect example of the agent not “owning” the player.  His agent surely advised hit to NOT re-sign in Baltimore last summer.  His agent, I’m certain, reminded him he’d cash in, big-time, if he just played out the string and became a free agent.  Jones, though, simply said, “You know what, I think I can live on $85 million and I love the franchise and I love Baltimore…I think I’ll sign now and get this over with.”

Wieters would sign here if the money was right.  And, by the way, I’m not suggesting the Orioles should back up the Brinks Truck for him.  Not at all.

Personally, I’d trade Wieters because I think he’s basically a decent offensive player that could fetch a nice return from a team looking to upgrade their own catching position and grab one of the game’s best defensive players at any position at the same time.

As I said last week:  Name the four catchers who were in the respective championship series’ last month.  Quickly now — who’s the catcher in Los Angeles?  In Detroit?  In Boston?  In St. Louis?  You probably know the Molina kid with the Cardinals.  He’s the best catcher in baseball right now.  Other than that…right…it’s a position that doesn’t jump out at you.

Let’s not blame this Orioles-Wieters drama on Scott Boras.

Two people are involved in this and two people only.

Matt Wieters.  And the Orioles.

If the Orioles want Wieters to stay, they can make that happen with a boatload of money.

If Wieters wants to sign here, he’ll take it.

If Wieters wants to leave Baltimore, he’ll keep saying what he’s been saying:  No thanks.

But, please, don’t blame this on Scott Boras.

Blame it on the Orioles.  And Matt Wieters.

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Orioles reportedly open to trading Wieters, Hardy

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Orioles reportedly open to trading Wieters, Hardy

Posted on 13 November 2013 by WNST Staff

The MLB general manager meetings in Orlando have garnered plenty of attention centered around the Orioles and trade speculation related to catcher Matt Wieters and shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Represented by super agent Scott Boras, Wieters does not become a free agent until after the 2015 season, but all indications are pointing to it being a difficult task for the Orioles to sign the All-Star catcher to a long-term deal. The 2007 first-round pick will be approaching age 30 when he’s scheduled to hit the free-agent market in two years.

Multiple reports are suggesting the Orioles would be open to trading either player for the right price. There were reported discussion between the Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals about a deal involving Hardy and right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller, but that deal was rejected by St. Louis.

The Orioles seek an impact starting pitcher for the top half of the rotation currently led by 16-game winner Chris Tillman.

Hardy is entering the final season of a three-year, $22.5 million that includes an eight-team no-trade clause.

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Your Monday Reality Check: “I hope his pants get caught and a bloodbath ensues!”

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Your Monday Reality Check: “I hope his pants get caught and a bloodbath ensues!”

Posted on 08 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

Coming off what I’m sure you all will agree was a well-earned week of vacation, I thought quite a bit about writing a lengthy piece about Jim Johnson and the Orioles’ closer situation. Despite Johnson’s 1-2-3 ninth inning in Baltimore’s 2-1 win Sunday over the New York Yankees, the situation remains quite fluid and will be followed closely in the coming weeks.

Although I will point this out from an appearance I made Sunday morning on the SiriusXM Fantasy Sports channel…

That happened at 8am Sunday. Call me “Glennstradamus”?

But I’m NOT writing about that. No…because while I was sitting at Chase Field in Phoenix Friday night watching the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Colorado Rockies I had a thought cross my mind. The thought was furthered during that appearance I made on the SXM Fantasy Channel Sunday morning.

That thought has everything in the world to do with the movie Mallrats. Or at least kinda.

Stick with me.

If you listen to “The Reality Check” (and since I’ve seen the ratings-I KNOW you do), you’ve probably heard me discuss the fact that in a previous life, I was obsessed with director Kevin Smith and his films. I embarrassingly admitted just a few weeks ago to Allen McCallum that I went to see the movie “Jersey Girl” in theaters THRICE with different young ladies. I’m not even remotely proud.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Mallrats” (and if not, go ahead and take the rest of the day off to view it. In fact, I’m broadcasting at Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill Monday afternoon courtesy of Pinnacle Vodka. Just bring your laptop and I’ll bring a copy of the flick you can watch before you head over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.), you’ll probably remember Jason Lee’s character Brodie and his sincere respect for all things related to his local shopping mall. One particular issue he has is with a small child who sits down on the escalator, ignoring the dangers of getting caught.

A few escalator rides in, Brodie’s fears play out as the child gets caught and is hurt. If you don’t mind a tiny bit of foul language, here’s a clip…

The take away phrase in that clip would be “that kid is back on the escalator again!”

(Continued on Page 2…)

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Five Questions for Friday

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Five Questions for Friday

Posted on 20 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

As we try out a new segment “Five Questions for Friday” on The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction, I wanted to pick readers’ brains on the following topics.

(Update: Thanks to those who chimed in via Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments section below. You can catch Friday morning’s segment HERE.)

I’ve offered my own thoughts on each question and invite you to offer your answers in the comments selection below and I’ll share your insights on Friday morning.

1. If you’re only able to keep two moving forward, who would you choose among Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and Chris Davis?

This question was brought up during Thursday morning’s show by Jonathan in Essex and it’s an intriguing one to ponder, particularly when you acknowledge the potential cost that each of these three young players will carry in the future.

Wieters and Davis are both scheduled to become free agents after 2015 while Machado isn’t currently scheduled to see free agency until after the 2018 campaign.

Machado is the easy first choice and Wieters would have been my second pick in spring training, but my answer may be changing as the season progresses and we see Chris Davis continue an MVP-caliber season. Even if this is Davis’ career year and he settles in as a first baseman capable of simply hitting 30 to 40 home runs in the typical year, he brings the type of power only a handful of players in the major leagues can provide.

However, Wieters’ defense and ability to handle a flawed pitching staff is a major reason why the Orioles have become a winning franchise over the last two years. He never did become Johnny Bench offensively, but he’s still a good offensive catcher with exceptional defensive skills, a rare combination among backstops in the game today.

If I’m choosing now, I’ll keep Machado and Davis, but a big reason why is the Orioles’ window for signing Wieters to a long-term extension continuing to close. The catcher will be 29 when he hits free agency after 2015 and will be looking for an expensive and lengthy contract, which is something I’m not crazy about doing for a catcher who will have much tread worn away from the tires by then.

2. After Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta, which player currently on the roster will be the most productive receiver for the Ravens in 2013?

Smith and Pitta are the easy choices for seeing a spike in production following the departure of Anquan Boldin, but it remains to be seen who else will emerge to become a bigger part of the passing game.

I’m not sold on Jacoby Jones suddenly become a consistent wide receiver in his seventh year despite the big-play ability, so I’ll go with Tandon Doss finally figuring it out in his third year to become a respectable contributor. Anyone in the media will tell you how well Doss has practiced over the last couple years, but limited opportunities and nagging injuries have prevented him from becoming a household name.

Many have written him off after being targeted only 20 times in his career and his disappointing showing in the wild-card round against Indianapolis, but he fits the closest profile to what the Ravens received from Boldin over the last three years. And he’s gotten stronger and quicker since entering the league as a fourth-round pick out of Indiana.

Of course, don’t forget the possibility of Ray Rice becoming an even bigger factor out of the backfield as a receiver, especially with the power-running ability of Bernard Pierce likely cutting into his total number of carries.

3. Of the four Orioles currently in line to be starters in July’s All-Star Game, how would you rank them in order of being most deserving? Which Orioles belong in the Midsummer Classic and which ones don’t?

Of the four players slated to be starters as of the last voting update, Davis is clearly the most deserving. After that, I’d be inclined to go with Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis in order from most to least deserving of the nod.

Jones continues to be very productive in a down year for American League outfielders. Meanwhile, Hardy is hitting .311 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs since May 1 and continues to be an excellent defensive shortstop.

Markakis is a pick based mostly on the outstanding voting efforts of Orioles fans, but little about his solid-but-unspectacular season really screams All-Star starter if you’re looking at his numbers objectively. He ranks 15th among AL outfielders with a .761 OPS this year.

Aside from Davis, no Orioles player is more deserving of an All-Star nod than Machado, who leads the major leagues in hits and is on pace to set a new major-league record for doubles as he already has 33 in 73 games. It’s understandable that he ranks second behind 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for third basemen, but it will truly be a shame if he’s left off the All-Star team.

Wieters currently ranks second among AL catchers and will earn consideration because of his defense and reputation, but his offensive numbers don’t hold up as well this year with a .702 OPS, which ranks behind Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Jason Castro, Ryan Doumit, and Salvador Perez among AL backstops.

4. Because everyone else has asked the question and I want to address it once before moving on, so who would be your four choices for the Ravens’ hypothetical version of Mt. Rushmore?

I suppose Pro Football Talk should receive the blame for getting this discussion rolling for the 32 NFL teams this spring, but I find it difficult to come up with a definitive foursome for a franchise that only has 17 seasons of history to its name.

The first three are elementary with Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, and Ed Reed, but choosing a fourth feels forced. Super Bowl XLVII most valuable player Joe Flacco would be my tentative selection for now, but Flacco has too much football ahead of him to definitively etch him in stone as one of the four greatest in franchise history.

Still, I’d include him before the likes of Ray Rice, Jamal Lewis, Matt Stover, and Terrell Suggs based on the first five years of his NFL career.

The truth is these types of exercises work much better for teams with extensive histories and it feels artificial for even successful teams with shorter histories such as the Ravens, let alone teams lacking any substantial prosperity like Jacksonville or Carolina.

5. What is your favorite superhero movie?

Yes, I realize this isn’t a sports-related question, but I thought I’d throw in a non-sports topic to discuss and I plan to see “Man of Steel” over the weekend.

The newest attempt at a Superman movie has received mixed reviews, but I’ll freely admit to being a nerd for superhero movies such as the Batman trilogy and saw “Iron Man 3″ in the theater earlier this spring.

“The Dark Knight” goes down as my all-time favorite superhero movie, but I also found “The Dark Knight Rises” to be much better than many gave it credit for as I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane. It was impossible to match the psychotic performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker in the previous movie, but Hardy gave a more than respectable effort playing the homicidal man behind the mask.

How would you answer the five questions posed? Comment below and see if your answers make the cut for Friday’s show.

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Markakis moves into top 3 among AL outfielders in All-Star voting

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Markakis moves into top 3 among AL outfielders in All-Star voting

Posted on 15 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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The Orioles may be trailing the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but they’re dominating the entire league when it comes to voting for Major League Baseball’s 84th All-Star Game.

The latest voting update has four Orioles players who would find themselves in the startling lineup for the 84th edition of the exhibition as first baseman Chris Davis, outfielder Adam Jones, and shortstop J.J. Hardy are leading the league in voting at their respective positions. Joining them as a projected starter would be eighth-year veteran Nick Markakis, who ranks third among AL outfielders behind Jones and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Markakis has never been selected to an All-Star Game.

Catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado rank second in voting at their respective positions and outfielder Nate McLouth ranks seventh among AL outfielders.

Davis has the second-highest vote total of any AL player behind Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has a lead of over 1.6 million votes over Machado.

Last year, the Orioles sent three players to the Midsummer Classic (Jones, Wieters, and closer Jim Johnson), marking the first time they’d had multiple selection in an All-Star Game since 2005 when Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, and B.J. Ryan were all selected to play.

In-stadium voting concludes on June 28, but fans may vote online through July 4. The All-Star teams will be unveiled on July 7 with the game itself scheduled for July 16 at Citi Field.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR VOTING
(as of June 15)

FIRST BASE
Chris Davis, Orioles 2,999,094
Prince Fielder, Tigers 1,980,129
Mike Napoli, Red Sox 744,334
Albert Pujols, Angels 693,062
Mitch Moreland, Rangers 645,071

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Yankees 2,409,512
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 1,635,674
Ian Kinsler, Rangers 1,123,654
Omar Infante, Tigers 872,142
Jose Altuve, Astros 734,896

SHORTSTOP
J.J. Hardy, Orioles 1,871,010
Elvis Andrus, Rangers 1,358,412
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers 1,322,791
Jed Lowrie, Athletics 1,019,861
Derek Jeter, Yankees 669,698

THIRD BASE
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 3,277,890
Manny Machado, Orioles 1,626,209
Adrian Beltre, Rangers 1,105,706
Evan Longoria, Rays 898,422
Josh Donaldson, J. Athletics 500,773

CATCHER
Joe Mauer, Twins 2,127,175
Matt Wieters, Orioles 1,615,625
A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers 885,137
Carlos Santana, Indians 864,779
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox 748,725

DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz, Red Sox 2,488,451
Lance Berkman, Rangers 1,239,521
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays 769,322
Mark Reynolds, Indians 745,058
Mark Trumbo, Angels 722,667

OUTFIELD
Adam Jones, Orioles 2,740,505
Mike Trout, Angels 2,710,115
Nick Markakis, Orioles 1,463,392
Torii Hunter, Tigers 1,425,571
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 1,379,251
Nelson Cruz, Rangers 1,310,079
Nate McLouth, Orioles 1,300,158
Alex Gordon, Royals 1,040,685
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox 1,004,434
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics 926,611
Coco Crisp, Athletics 869,153
Josh Hamilton, Angels 726,485
Austin Jackson, Tigers 712,623
Shane Victorino, Red Sox 682,220
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees 620,734

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