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Moyer granted release from Triple-A Norfolk by Orioles

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Moyer granted release from Triple-A Norfolk by Orioles

Posted on 23 June 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Earlier this month, it looked like 49-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer would pitch for the Orioles for the first time in 17 years.

Instead, the experiment ended at Triple-A Norfolk after the left-hander asked for and was granted his release on Saturday. The Orioles were hoping Moyer would agree to remain in Triple A a little longer, especially since the club doesn’t need a fifth starter again until next Saturday.

Moyer went 1-1 with a 1.69 earned run average over three starts that covered 16 innings. He struck out 16 without walking a single batter over the three outings.

“He pitched pretty well down there in a short look, and we’re very appreciative of him for giving us that opportunity to look,” Showalter said. “I don’t think anybody would be surprised if he didn’t pitch effectively for somebody.”

With Chris Tillman pitching effectively and Zach Britton pitching better in his most recent outing, Moyer was viewed as a lesser option to help the Orioles. Showalter appreciated Moyer’s work and wanted to offer him the professional respect and courtesy he deserved after agreeing to what was essentially a three-start tryout in which the organization would evaluate him.

In 10 starts made for the Colorado Rockies earlier this season, Moyer was 2-5 with a 5.70 ERA and allowed 11 home runs. He was released on June 4 before being signed to a minor-league deal two days later by Baltimore.

As for other veterans in the Orioles’ minor league system, left-handed reliever J.C. Romero also has an opt-out clause and the organization will have to make a decision by the All-Star Break. Though currently away from Triple-A Norfolk to deal with a personal matter, the 36-year-old Romero has pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings over 13 appearances for the Tides.

Veteran third baseman Miguel Tejada does not have an opt-out clause, however, and is hitting .248 with no home runs and 17 runs batted in over 121 at-bats for Norfolk. The 38-year-old infielder has just two extra-base hits, both of them doubles.

Left-handed starter Dontrelle Willis was also activated by Norfolk on Saturday and will presumably assume Moyer’s spot in the starting rotation.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear more from Buck Showalter about Moyer’s release and other items prior to the second of a three-game series against the Nationals.

 

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Britton struggles again in Norfolk loss

Posted on 10 June 2012 by WNST Staff

The Bisons came out with the mentality of making up for their shutout loss Saturday night.

The result Sunday afternoon at Coca-Cola Field was a 4-2 win over the Tides.

The Herd struck first in the bottom of the third.

Bottom half for the Bisons began on back-to-back singles by Sean Kazmar and Corey Wimberly. After that, Brad Emaus hit a bunt to Tides starter Zach Britton to sacrifice Kazmar and Wimberly to second and third with one out.

Fred Lewis delivered with a fly ball single to right to knock in Kazmar and Wimberly and in the process make it a 2-0 Bisons lead.

“Definitely good to see some offense today,” Manager Wally Backman said. “We’ve been missing key opportunities lately so it’s good to get some runs today.”

The Tides although would answer back in the top of the fourth.

After a double by Lew Ford, former major leaguer Miguel Tejada brought in Ford with an RBI single and cut the Bisons lead to 2-1.

In the top of the fifth, Tides tacked on another run to tie the game at 2, courtesy of Bill Hall’s solo shot.

However, the tie ball-game wouldn’t last long. The bottom of the fifth began with a single by Oswaldo Navarro, Kazmar hit a sacrifice bunt to move Navarro to second.

Wimberly followed with a run-scoring double to left to make it 3-2 Bisons.

The Herd tacked on another run in the sixth, this time a solo home run by Rob Johnson.

In relief of Dylan Owen, the Bisons bullpen combined to four and a third innings, allowing two hits and striking out five.

“Our bullpen has been phenomenal lately, especially (Fernando) Cabrera,” Backman added. “He’s built to be a closer so see him deliver the way he is great.”

BISONS NOTES: Fernando Cabrera recorded his 14th save of the season. He is a perfect 14-for-14 in save opportunities…Fred Lewis is four plate appearances short for qualifying for the sixth-highest average (.305) in the IL…Dylan Owen is the third straight starter to last 4.2 innings Sunday afternoon in an outing, with Harvey and Mejia the other two starters.

 

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Tejada continues hot hitting for Norfolk in win

Posted on 27 May 2012 by WNST Staff

Durham plated two unearned runs in the top of the 10th inning, sending Norfolk to a 3-1 loss Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park.

With the score tied 1-1, Henry Wrigley opened up the 10th frame with a grounder to third base, but Miguel Tejada short-hopped his throw into the dugout, allowing Wrigley to advance to second. One out later, Reid Brignac plated pinch-runner Shawn O’Malley with a single to right off of Jon Link (0-2), giving the Bulls the lead. Former Tide Jeff Salazar later added a single to left-center to plate Brignac, extending Durham’s lead to 3-1.

Norfolk starter Jason Berken was extremely effective, but once again was left searching for his first victory of 2012. Berken, who entered the contest ranked 6th in the IL with a 2.50 ERA, allowed three hits and two walks while striking out five in seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 2.12.

Sunday was the third time this season that Berken left a game with a lead, only to see the opponents rally against Norfolk’s bullpen.

The Tides scored their only run of the contest in the seventh inning, as Joe Mahoney led off the frame with a walk and scored on a two-out triple by Blake Davis.

Tejada finished 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch in the contest, and he’s now hitting .375 in seven games since joining Norfolk.

Hideki Matsui had a single in four plate appearances for the Bulls.

The Tides travel to Pawtucket on Monday to start a four-game set with the Red Sox. Zach Clark will be making his first start for Norfolk since being promoted from Double-A Bowie, and he’ll be opposed by right-hander Doug Mathis (3-2, 4.23). First pitch is slated for 4:05.

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I hope contract helps Jones keep Birds accountable

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I hope contract helps Jones keep Birds accountable

Posted on 27 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve already used both space on Twitter (@WNST, @GlennClarkWNST) and on AM1570 WNST.net to opine about the significance of the Baltimore Orioles giving CF Adam Jones the richest contract in franchise history.

We now finally know all of the details and Jones is set to discuss those details Sunday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I won’t be attending Sunday’s press conference. I would, but our WNST.net Ballpark reporter Luke Jones has been denied the right to ask questions at previous press conferences and I don’t want to run the risk of causing a scene at what should almost certainly be a day of celebration.

Adam Jones’ contract extension is as much an event to celebrate as almost anything we’ve seen in the last 15 years of baseball in Charm City. The Birds have perhaps addressed both their present and their future and made a major statement about their willingness to do things differently than they have for more than decade while losing many more games than they won.

I’m aware Jones perhaps took a hometown discount in signing the contract a season and a half shy of free agency. I’m aware the team still appears to need more pitching than they currently have to be an annual contender. I’m aware that the team now needs to shift attention to catcher Matt Wieters when it comes to contracts.

There was something bigger than jumped out at me though.

As I was given more time to dissect what Jones’ deal really means, I thought back to December 1997. For O’s fans around my age, Brady Anderson was about the coolest thing to ever happen to the Orange & Black. He had young female fans worship him and young male fans…well…basically worship him. He had it all. Sideburns, muscles, personality, charm, speed, defense and an amazing 50 home run season.

(I didn’t mention anything about performance enhancing drugs. You do what you want there.)

After Anderson’s 50 home run campaign in 1996 and the Orioles’ run to the ALCS in ’97, young fans like myself lived in fear of waking up one morning to be informed that Anderson had signed a major deal with the New York Yankees or Atlanta Braves or Cleveland Indians.

Anderson was certainly not the commodity at 34 that Jones would have been had he reached free agency at 28, but he still had market interest. He ultimately passed on shorter deals with more per season to accept five years and $31 million from Peter Angelos and the Orioles. Anderson’s best seasons were clearly behind him, but it still meant quite a bit for the franchise to make the move.

I also thought back to January of 2009, when Andy MacPhail locked up OF Nick Markakis for six years and $66 million, the richest contract extension the franchise had given to a player until Jones’ deal. (SS Miguel Tejada had received the overall most lucrative contract in team history until Jones.) While certainly not reaching superstar status, Markakis has given the Birds stellar defense and a mostly consistent bat.

But beyond the significant contracts, there is a more important similarity between the two players whose time has spanned much of the team’s “Rock Bottom Era.” The issue is that neither player was able to use his major contract to help keep the team accountable.

A baseball player with a rich contract is in a unique situation with the franchise paying the deal. Because the money is guaranteed, the player has the right to get away with certain things a player in another league might not be able to. In the case of the Orioles, they’ve really needed a player who has been willing to stand up and say “we need better” as the team suffered through losing seasons after losing season.

Allow me to be fair to the two players involved. Anderson was only part of the club at the very beginning of their lean years, and the team was still making at least some attempts to improve by bringing in the likes of Albert Belle and others. (Anderson however has become a well known defender of the Angelos regime in recent years, which has helped him find his way back into the organization.) Markakis has never been much of a vocal type, but he did publicly question the direction of the organization. His participated in a dinner with Angelos that season to discuss those very issues.

Perhaps there is an argument to be made that Markakis’ 2010 outburst DID lead to accountability, as two years later the Orioles have shown themselves (at least for two months) to be one of the better teams in baseball.

But moving forward, I hope it’s a role that suits Jones well. I hope the fire, drive, passion and determination to win that have made Jones an emotional figure in recent years will translate both on field and off. I hope that if the Birds make questionable decisions, he’ll call them out for them. It doesn’t need to be something he does publicly, just a statement made privately from the player slated to receive more money during his tenure than any Oriole before.

I hope Jones embraces not only the responsibilities of an on field leader and star, but as a bit of a caretaker for an organization that has so desperately lacked the right man for the role. I hope he puts pressure on the organization to make the moves necessary to stay in contention every season. I hope he never takes the easy way out and thinks “Mr. Angelos (or insert future owner’s name here) has made me a rich man. It’s not my place to stand up to him.”

I feel as though Jones can be a significant part of the solution for the Orioles. I hope he’s up for everything that comes along with the task.

-G

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Orioles agree to six-year extension with center fielder Adam Jones

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Orioles agree to six-year extension with center fielder Adam Jones

Posted on 25 May 2012 by Luke Jones

(Saturday 6:45 p.m. update — The Orioles have completed the deal and will announce it on Sunday, according to MASNSports.com. Jones’ agent Nez Balelo remained in Baltimore over the weekend to finalize details with executive vice president of baseball operations.)

In what would be a benchmark moment for the future of the organization, the Orioles are reportedly close to a club record long-term extension with star center fielder Adam Jones.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported Baltimore was closing in on a six-year agreement for money in the neighborhood of $85 million as of Friday morning. That contract would trump the franchise record $72 million contract the  Orioles offered to Miguel Tejada prior to the start of the 2004 season. A new agreement would buy out Jones’ final year of arbitration before he was scheduled to become a free agent following the 2013 season.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has remained mum on the topic of a Jones extension, dodging questions about it in several local interviews, but it appears the Orioles will make a long-term commitment to the 26-year-old outfielder.

Jones is hitting .311 with 14 home runs (tied for second in the American League) and 29 runs batted in this season in what’s easily been his most productive start to a season in his seven-year career in the big leagues.

Reports indicate Jones has already taken a physical as the two sides iron out final details for the deal on Friday morning.

The center fielder is making $6.15 million this season and would likely become the highest paid player on the team with a deal certain to surpass the six-year, $66.1 million extension signed by right fielder Nick Markakis prior to the start of the 2009 season.

With the Orioles set to welcome the Kansas City Royals to town to begin a three-game set, Friday could prove to be a memorable night in the history of the organization.

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Phillips joins Orioles bullpen, Berken back to Norfolk

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Phillips joins Orioles bullpen, Berken back to Norfolk

Posted on 08 May 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — It turns out pitcher Jason Berken’s second stint with the club will be shorter than his first one in Baltimore this season.

After a terrible inning of work in Monday’s 14-3 loss to the Texas Rangers, Berken has been optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk and replaced by left-handed reliever Zach Phillips. Berken allowed six hits and seven runs (two earned) in the ninth inning, which included a long home run by Josh Hamilton.

Manager Buck Showalter planned to only use three pitchers on Monday — starter Brian Matusz, Stu Pomeranz, and Berken — and will now turn to the southpaw relief pitcher he begrudgingly optioned to Triple-A Norfolk at the start of the season because he had a remaining option unlike a few other bullpen arms. Phillips had a brilliant Grapefruit League with the Orioles, posting a 1.35 earned run average in 13 1/3 innings of spring work.

Phillips owned a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings for Triple-A Norfolk so far this season.

He and Troy Patton give the Orioles two left-handers in the bullpen for the first time this season, but Showalter is not ready to designate one as a situational lefty and cited their backgrounds as starters and the ability for either pitcher to throw multiple innings when needed.

“I don’t think there’s enough track record there to [make either a lefty specialist] for sure,” Showalter said, “but both these guys – he and Troy – have the potential to do both, which is unusual.”

As for who will make Friday’s start in the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, Showalter is remaining tight-lipped but knows who he will call as long as rain doesn’t interfere over the next few days. All signs point to Norfolk starter Dana Eveland, who was pulled after 63 pitches on Monday despite throwing five shutout innings for the Tides.

The Orioles would have to put Eveland on the 40-man roster, but second baseman Brian Roberts could be transferred to the 60-day disabled list without any consequence to his efforts to return from concussion-related symptoms. Catcher Taylor Teagarden would also be a candidate for the 60-day DL as he continues to receive treatment for a back injury.

When asked about veteran infielder Miguel Tejada, Showalter confirmed the former Orioles shortstop and third baseman passed his physical without any concerns on Monday. However, the Baltimore manager deferred to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette for more details.

“I don’t know what the process or the plan is at this point,” said Showalter, who was under the impression that Tejada served as the designated hitter during an extended spring training game in Sarasota on Tuesday.

Showalter admitted to not being familiar with Tejada, but he pointed to the positive reviews from former teammates of Tejada that are still on the roster.

Right fielder Nick Markakis is off to a difficult start in 2012, hitting just .230 with three home runs and 11 runs batted in in 113 at-bats. When asked whether he would consider moving the struggling outfielder from the third spot in the order, Showalter brushed it off for now.

“It’s too early,” Showalter said. “I think Nick has swung the bat well for us at times.”

Showalter went on to discuss the batting order in greater detail, acknowledging sabermetrics and varying philosophies on how to construct a lineup. With Nolan Reimold currently on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disc in his neck, the Orioles lack any semblance of a prototypical leadoff hitter — if you could even label Reimold that to begin with.

Endy Chavez has received the most opportunities in Reimold’s absence, but the veteran outfielder is off to a miserable start with a .127 average. Chavez has a .310 career on-base percentage over his 11 years in the big leagues — not exactly what you’re looking for at the top of the order.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

Texas
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Adrian Beltre
3B Michael Young
LF David Murphy
RF Nelson Cruz
C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland

SP Neftali Feliz (1-1, 3.81 ERA)

Baltimore
LF Endy Chavez
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Wilson Betemit
DH Mark Reynolds
2B Robert Andino

SP Jake Arrieta (2-2, 3.52 ERA)

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Orioles close to bringing back infielder Miguel Tejada

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Orioles close to bringing back infielder Miguel Tejada

Posted on 04 May 2012 by Luke Jones

What initially appeared to be an internet hoax has transformed into a real possibility as the Orioles appear set on signing veteran infielder Miguel Tejada.

The 37-year-old will report to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota to take a physical and work out on Monday. Assuming the physical shows no surprises, it is believed the Orioles will sign him to help improve their depth at third base.

Tejada has had two other stints in Baltimore, playing for the Orioles from 2004 to 2007 and for part of the 2010 season. The aging infielder spent the 2011 season with the San Francisco Giants, hitting .239 with four home runs and 26 runs batted in in 92 games while playing shortstop, third base, and second base. He posted a career-low .596 OPS for the offensively-challenged Giants.

With Mark Reynolds struggling at the plate and in the field, the Orioles have used Wilson Betemit more than expected at third base, where he is not strong defensively. Tejada may provide a slight upgrade defensively over Reynolds or Betemit, but it’s difficult to justify his addition considering how dramatically he’s declined offensively over the last three seasons.

A Tejada signing would be the second veteran addition since the start of the season after executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette signed infielder Bill Hall to a minor-league contract last month. It might be a low-risk move, but Tejada is a far cry from the hitter he was even three years ago let alone the man who drove in 150 runs in his first season with the Orioles in 2004.

It is unclear how much time Tejada would need in extended spring training before potentially joining the big league club.

 

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After Scott’s injury, Orioles should look even harder at trading Guthrie

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After Scott’s injury, Orioles should look even harder at trading Guthrie

Posted on 23 July 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With the trade deadline only a week away, the Orioles have a very difficult decision to make when it comes to the future of Jeremy Guthrie, who could be making his final start with the club at Camden Yards on Sunday afternoon.

Do you trade your most consistent pitcher — even with an ugly 4-13 record — and further destroy a starting rotation sporting a 7.88 earned run average over its last 23 games entering Saturday’s action? Or do you retain your lone veteran presence on a club still hoping to develop the likes of Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, and Brian Matusz and forgo any potential return of younger players for the future?

The trade winds have whispered Guthrie’s name for a few seasons now, but the Orioles ultimately viewed their de facto ace as more valuable to them than any other team trying to pluck him at the deadline. Despite a 42-61 record in five seasons with the Orioles, Guthrie has a career 4.10 ERA over that span, including three seasons in which he finished with an ERA below 3.85.

By no means should the Orioles simply send Guthrie to the first taker, but perhaps a look at the unfortunate case of Luke Scott should make president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail think long and hard about trading the 32-year-old pitcher. Scott was once again placed on the disabled list Saturday with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and will miss the rest of the season as he opts to either undergo surgery or go through a lengthy rehabilitation program.

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A year ago at this time, Scott was in the midst of becoming the team’s most valuable player when he hit 27 home runs and posted a .902 OPS. Instead of trading Scott at last year’s deadline or moving him in the offseason, the Orioles abstained and now face the decision of what to do with the 33-year-old power hitter in his final year of arbitration and making $6.4 million this season. While a team-friendly offer is within reason this winter, it would be unwise to offer arbitration and to pay Scott upwards of $7 million with his health being such an uncertainty at age 34 in 2012.

Instead of moving Scott — who has a .826 OPS in his four seasons in Baltimore — when they had the chance to get younger value in return, the Orioles now face the prospect of allowing a declining Scott to walk for nothing.

“My heart’s desire is I’m going to be here when the organization makes that turn to get back to where we need to be,” Scott said. “But that’s out of my hands. All I can do is just get ready for this challenge that’s coming up to get myself ready for next spring training and to bring to the table what I bring to the table when I’m healthy. The rest is the Orioles’ decision. The good Lord has control of my future, and my hope is it will be here.”

The comments are unsurprising and echo the thoughts of Guthrie whenever the pitcher’s been asked about his desire to remain with the Orioles amid trade rumors the last few seasons. The Stanford product has done everything asked of him and has always said the right things during his time in Baltimore, with very little in return in the way of run support and accolades.

However, Guthrie will also enter his final year of arbitration this winter after making $5.75 million in 2011. He will be 33 years old next season and will likely seek a three-year contract and relatively substantial dollars. With the Orioles mired in last place with a 40-57 record, does Guthrie really fit the profile of a pitcher who will still be productive by the time the club might — and that’s a major hypothetical at this point — be ready to compete?

It’s not smart to offer multi-year deals to 33-year-old pitchers when you’re not close to contending, which is where the Orioles will likely find themselves a year from now.

As tempting as it is to simply maintain the status quo — you know what you’re getting from Guthrie every fifth day — perhaps it’s time to grant him his release from baseball purgatory. There’s little doubt the right-hander could be of great help to a contender looking for an effective third or fourth starter. In return, the Orioles will hopefully fetch a player or two close to being ready to contribute at the major league level.

While no real fault of his own, Guthrie hasn’t made the Orioles a winner, and it isn’t likely to change anytime soon as he approaches his mid-30s. Failing to get good returns for productive older players has happened far too often over the last 14 years, and it’s really no excuse if you’re trying to eventually contend and not just concern yourself with being a .500 team the following season.

Are the Orioles worse without Guthrie in the immediate future? Yes.

Will Guthrie put them over the top if the Orioles find themselves on the cusp of being a contender? Doubtful.

As brutal as it might be to the current starting rotation should Guthrie be dealt, it’s far more painful watching Scott limp away from his 2011 season with the Orioles knowing the possibility of getting something for him is all but gone.

If the right opportunity arises — a fair trade for the pitcher’s services — MacPhail and the Orioles need to make a deal.

If they decide not to, I hope we’re not thinking back to this conversation again next summer.

And wondering what might have been had they decided to pull the trigger.

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For O’s fan like myself, Christmas-and hopefully a New Year-begins next week

Posted on 25 March 2011 by Ryan Chell

In the last month at WNST and in the sports world, most of the talk has been surrounded by the ongoing labor situation in the NFL(recently flaring up in a lockout by the owners threatening the 2011 season), disappointment from Terps basketball as yet another year with no NCAA Tournament aspirations, and various other sports topics of discussion-most of them negative.

But, I was surprised at the start of baseball season to see so much optimism toward the hometown Baltimore Orioles-mind you a team that has not had a winning season since 1997.

And of course, you can trace that optimism back to last summer, when veteran manger Buck Showalter-who built three franchises to the level of World Series participants-took over as manager of the Baltimore Orioles on August 3rd and led the Orioles to a 34-23 record-best in the AL East for the last stretch of the season.

Showalter’s arrival showed the impact of what a veteran manager (guys not named Dave Trembley or Juan Samuel) who knows the game of baseball along with evaluating key personnel can put wins on the board.

But frankly, it could also be said that Showalter was blessed with the healthiest Oriole team of last year, having both his leadoff hitter in Brian Roberts and his reliever in Koji Uehara healthy for the final run of the season.

Still, what Showalter did last year energized the displaced and beaten Oriole fanbase.

And I was one of them.

Last season, I went to one game before Showalter took over as manager of the Orioles-this coming from a former regular to OPACY.

I always enjoy going to Orioles games growing up. Baseball is my first love. My dad and I have been going to games since I was eight years old (I’m 23 now).I have so many fond memories of going to Oriole Park as a growing lad.

I remember when I was younger sitting in the club seats on the first base side when my dad got them from the car dealership he used to work for.

I still have my Orioles cards I received one night at the ballpark featuring the likes of Chris Hoiles, Cal Ripken, Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Brady Anderson and more.

I loved emulating Cal Ripken’s hundreds of batting stances and Mike Mussina’s trademark way of checking the runner at first base by bending down and looking through his legs.

One of the first games I ever went to at Camden Yards, I puked due to eating so much of the food there. (Not one of my finest moments but I can safely say I’ve never hoarded out since).

In 1997, my dad and I went to Game 1 of the ALCS verus the Cleveland Indians. The Orioles won that night with Scott Erickson on the mound, and we sat in a filled-to-the-brink Camden Yards in the back row of the left field bleachers.

I remember being in the fifth grade (my teacher also went to the game that night) and looking back behind me and just seeing a chain-link fence and a huge drop behind me. I was terrified. And even I wasn’t worrying about that, I couldn’t see much of the field or the players even with the binoculars I brought.

It was kind of a bummer for a ten-year old kid.

My dad was “well-off” at the time, but his reasoning for the nose-bleed seats were to save for the eventual World Series tickets.

Unfortunately…that never came.

And after 14 years of losing, the Orioles continued to test both my and my dad’s patience so much so that our journeys to Camden Yards dwindled and dwindled till we stopped going completely.

There’s only so much of an emotional roller-coaster ride you can take. Right O’s fans?

I would still watch the games on television religiously for 80% of the year until the usual August slide occurred post All-Star break, and then it was on to football.

It was part of the routine for the last decade-plus.

But things are different now. For the first time in years, the Orioles FINISHED well and on top of that, we might not have football to rely on this year Baltimore.

After Showalter put a spark into the team, that renewed sense of optimism put my dad and I back in the ballpark on several occasions. It was the first time in almost a decade that my dad had been at the park and for me, I could count on one hand how many times I had gone solo or with a group of friends to an Orioles game that wasn’t student night or giving something away.

The Orioles management in the off-season tried their best to keep that salivation going on the part of the Baltimore fanbase by  getting some new toys  for practically nothing, and with little risk involved.

They traded away David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio-two pitchers who had the chance to be non-tendered by the club anyway-for a 30 home run third basemen in Mark Reynolds who had an off-year due to injuries in 2010.

The same could be said for former Cubs/Marlins/Braves first baseman Derrek Lee-once on track for Triple Crown numbers several years back with Chicago, and an offensive upgrade at shortstop with J.J. Hardy forcing Cesar Izturis to the bench.

And the club reached out to the competition and stole the closer of the Toronto Blue Jays from last season in Kevin Gregg to hopefully do the same for the Orange and Black.

But ultimately, the icing on the cake came when the Orioles finally reached out to former AL-MVP Vladimir Guerrero and signed him to a one-year deal.

Guerrero-who was sought by the Orioles years ago when he first hit free agency in 2004-was a huge part in the Texas Rangers reaching the World Series last year, and even if he has an off-year, I’ll take a drop-off from 29 HR, 115 RBIs and a .300 batting average any day of the week.

People say he’s injury prone, but he did play in 152 games last year as a DH.

I’m right along with Buck Showalter right now in wanting to just get this thing started.

I’m the kid at Christmas waiting for his parents to come downstairs so we can get started opening them.

The enthusiasm has to be there. How can you be disappointed in what the Orioles did in the off-season?

They went out and addressed needs-and with short-term solutions-maybe even guys who turn their careers around and become a piece of the U-turn in Baltimore.

You have to crawl before you can walk. You have to show the superstars out there-guys like Prince Fielder-that this team is going somewhere before they are going to make a commitment.

And if they don’t work out? They won’t be here. This isn’t Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, and Javy Lopez where they’re stuck with these guys for several seasons paying them for mediocrity while holding someone else back.

And while all the talk about earning a wild card spot, reaching the playoffs, and even getting to .500 this year is all good and nice, sorry Baltimore-this is where I have to lay it down like it is.

Even with the moves they made from a year ago, it’s going to be near-impossible to improve by 20+ wins in the standings. They still have relatively the same pitching staff from a year ago, some injury concerns, and a similar bullpen in many aspects.

So hold off on the-”We’re gunning for you Boston and Baltimore”-especially you…Buck Showalter.

But I will say this. I don’t care how they finish right now. And if even if the consecutive losing streak continues this year, it’s not going to be because they started out with just two wins on the year in the first three weeks.

They’ll be exciting to watch and competitive.

We’ll be in April soon. Everyone will have a clean slate and on Opening Day, everyone will be on the same level,  identical records and have common ground is in place.

The best thing in the world of Orioles baseball would be for this team to get off to the tremendous start the team got off to in 2005-going 42-30 under Lee Mazzilli while enjoying first place-but this time staying there with another former Yankee leading the way.

And I’d be there to watch it.Now let’s get started.

WNST is ready for the Orioles 2011 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Guerrero’s 7-year itch gets scratched in Baltimore

Posted on 05 February 2011 by Drew Forrester

Andy MacPhail finally gave in.

Perhaps it’s four years of losing and the spector of having his Baltimore tenure tied to last place and disappointing results after arriving with such hope and promise.

But MacPhail is apparently going to try and deliver a winner to Charm City before most likely moving on at the end of this season.

I don’t know if we should all say “Thank you, Andy” or “What took you so friggin’ long?” but the diehards like me who have waited so long for a competitive Orioles team just might get their wish in 2011.

It all came full-circle yesterday when word trickled out that Vlad Guerrero was heading to Baltimore, seven years after snubbing the O’s in favor of the Angels.

Better late than never, I suppose.

Vlad Guerrero the-second-time-around is still better than no Guerrero at all.  (BTW, here’s Rex Snider’s blog on the subject if you want to see how he feels about it.)

Vlad is a better hitter than Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie will ever be, period.  Heck, I can’t imagine there’s one player on the Orioles 40-man roster right now who will ever have a career-at-the-plate like Guerrero.  In case you haven’t paid attention for the last 15 years or so, here are THE NUMBERS that have made Guerrero one of baseball’s five best offensive players since 1996.  Hall of Famer?  If not, they should just stop putting people in.

So that’s the summary of Guerrero.  He’s better than either of the team’s two “younger” left fielders – even now at age 36 – and his bat is as productive as anyone the Orioles have had in…well…how about forever?

But there will be criticisms about the move.  People who fancy themselves armchair GM’s will point to the fact that the Orioles had to cough up $8 million to get a guy that no one else in the league wanted.  Some will compare the paltry $2 million that Tampa Bay forked over for Manny Ramirez and wonder how on earth the Birds got bilked out of $8 million for Guerrero.  Sharp-eyes for the game of baseball will say Guerrero is showing obvious signs of wearing down, but his abilities even at the 16-year mark of his career are far greater than Miguel Tejada or Garrett Atkins, the two “prize” signings of last winter (neither of whom made it to August 1 with the club).

Unlike the off-season of 2010 when the Birds tried to convince people they were trying by signing guys on the cheap with little or no hope of making a major impact, this off-season has been quite different.  Yes, guys like Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy are coming to town on the heels of “off” years.  Derrek Lee, like Guerrero, is older and more vulnerable than he was when the O’s tried to get him in the past.  Justin Duchscherer was the club’s marquee pitching acquisition and he threw in 5 more major league games than your’s truly over the last 2 seasons.

But guys like Lee and Guerrero and Hardy — they’re competent, HIGHLY capable players who have a history of excellence. Do they all have (continued…)

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