Tag Archive | "MLB"

Orioles pitching prospect Harvey done for season with elbow injury

Tags: , , , ,

Orioles pitching prospect Harvey done for season with elbow injury

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles received bad news about one of their top pitching prospects Wednesday as 19-year-old Hunter Harvey will be shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation and a flexor mass strain.

The 2013 first-round pick went 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts covering 87 2/3 innings this season, earning an invitation to the Futures Game during All-Star weekend in Minnesota earlier this month. The right-hander last pitched on June 25 when he allowed four earned runs and eight hits over five innings but had allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his previous four starts.

“Hunter saw our doctors [Tuesday], and he has an issue with his elbow, so he won’t be pitching anymore the rest of the season,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Wednesday at Camden Yards. “I need to learn a little more about it. He’s had a good year, and he has distinguished himself as a top young pitcher. And he needs a rest period.”

Duquette added that the injury is not believed to require surgery at this time. The structure of Harvey’s ulnar collateral ligament is supposedly sound, but fellow top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was given the same initial diagnosis last year before ultimately needing Tommy John surgery when a period of rest did not produce the desired healing.

Taken with the 22nd overall pick of last year’s draft, Harvey saw his stock soaring this season and was named the No. 13 prospect in all of baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law earlier this month. The North Carolina native is the son of former major league closer Bryan Harvey.

Comments (0)

Duquette dismisses report of Orioles closing in on Lester trade

Tags: , , , , ,

Duquette dismisses report of Orioles closing in on Lester trade

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Addressing a flurry of trade rumors centering around the Orioles targeting Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester on Wednesday afternoon, Dan Duquette did his best to throw a blanket on the fire.

The executive vice president of baseball operations reiterated his long-held position of not wanting to deal the organization’s top pitching prospects and dismissed reports that the Orioles were closing in on a deal for the three-time All-Star hurler.

“Well, that would be news to me,” said Duquette, who acknowledged an obvious interest in adding a top-of-the-rotation pitcher if possible. “Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching are very valuable to the long-term sustainability of the organization, and I think that’s a real important component to have a good team year in and year out. I think if we were to err with our young pitchers, we would be conservative and we’d try to give them a long trial in the big leagues before trading them.”

Duquette said Tuesday he was focused on adding depth to the rotation rather than making a blockbuster move, making it unlikely the Orioles would pull the trigger on a deal for Lester that would involve Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, or Hunter Harvey. Of course, Wednesday’s news of Harvey being shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation and a flexor mass strain further diminished the likelihood of the Orioles moving a top prospect.

Lester was scratched for his scheduled start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday as several teams remain interested in his services. A free agent at the end of the season, the lefty is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts spanning 143 innings this year.

Multiple reports have stated the Orioles are interested in Chicago Cubs utility player Emilio Bonifacio, who has played center field as well as three infield spots this season. The switch-hitting 29-year-old is hitting .279 with two home runs, 18 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases and has posted a 1.024 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handed pitching this season.

Baltimore also remains interested in adding another late-inning reliever to its bullpen for the stretch run.

“We’re still talking to a number of teams,” Duquette said. “We have not consummated a deal yet, but we’re talking to a couple of teams. We hope we’ll be able to add some people to our organization.”

 

Comments (0)

Orioles pondering right fit with trade deadline approaching

Tags: , , , ,

Orioles pondering right fit with trade deadline approaching

Posted on 29 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Thursday’s trade deadline quickly approaching, the Orioles weren’t offering a vibe that a significant deal was imminent as they returned home from a long West Coast trip to begin a three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.

Even with a Fox Sports report on Monday saying the Orioles had inquired about the availability of Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette reiterated a day later that he is not interested in giving away the top prizes of his minor league system, which include pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey as well as current Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman. Duquette told reporters that adding pitching depth remains a priority, which could come in the form of another starter or an extra arm in the bullpen.

The Orioles have also been linked to Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett, Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa, and San Diego’s Ian Kennedy in various media reports in recent weeks.

“It’s one thing to go out and acquire somebody, but there’s got to be a fit there,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You guys can figure out where the fit might be. I’m looking at trying to play through the end of October with the 25 people we have.”

The Orioles remain open to the possibility of upgrading the second base and catcher positions but continue to place a premium on strong defense accompanying any improved offensive production. They entered Tuesday ranked sixth in the American League in team ERA (3.78), but rank 14th in fielding independent pitching (4.21), a metric used to roughly determine what a pitcher’s ERA would look like with defensive play eliminated from the equation. This, in part, reflects how important strong defense has been to the Orioles’ success this season.

Jonathan Schoop is hitting just .216 and Ryan Flaherty .207, but both have provided above-average defense at second base. The catching combination of Caleb Joseph (.197) and Nick Hundley (.205) is hovering around the Mendoza line, but Showalter and pitchers alike have credited their work behind the plate as a major reason for the pitching success since early June.

A report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Tuesday indicated the Orioles are not interested in Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki.

“You never assume anything. I don’t want to know every [rumor],” Showalter said. “We’ve talked about some things that are out there, but [Duquette] doesn’t have to [tell me everything] and I don’t want him to. I want our players to know that every ounce that I’ve got is towards the 25 that are here and the 20 [or so] that are in Norfolk and Bowie. That’s my job.”

Duquette and the Orioles clearly won’t tip their hand if something significant is in the works, but it still appears they’re more likely to add a bullpen arm or a starting pitcher with minor-league options before compromising their future for a impact starting pitcher who may or may not be available with so few sellers at the deadline under the current playoff system that now includes two wild cards in each league.

Of course, with the Orioles entering Tuesday with the fourth-best record in the majors and a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL East, they don’t feel the urgency to pull the trigger on a deal simply for the sake of making one, either. And there’s always the distinct possibility of a move being made in August when a number of helpful players will inevitably pass through waivers and once again become available through a trade.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our people up there,” Showalter said. “I think we get so bogged down thinking it’s a strict ‘no more trades’ after this day. Take a look at the people acquired after the deadline [in the past]. It’s a moving target. Dan brings me up to speed on things that he wants my input from, and he knows that I go through the coaching staff and we kick it around.”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

Orioles activate Norris, option Clevenger to Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 21 July 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Monday that they have recalled right-handed pitcher Bud Norris from Double-A Bowie and optioned catcher Steve Clevenger to Triple-A Norfolk.

Norris, 29, is 7-6 with a 3.96 ERA (91.0IP, 40ER) in 15 starts for the Orioles this season.

Clevenger, 28, appeared in two games for the Orioles after being recalled on July 12. He has batted .328/.378/.458 in 36 games with Norfolk and .240/.296/.373 in 81 plate appearances for the Orioles this season.

Comments (0)

The Baltimore Orioles: A Second Half Preview

Tags: , ,

The Baltimore Orioles: A Second Half Preview

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Brandon Sacks

While the season is technically more than halfway completed, the All Star Break is generally considered to be the midpoint of the season.  Therefore, it is time to look at how the birds have performed during the first half of the season and preview what to expect for the upcoming second half.

The birds currently sit at 52-42, 10 games above .500.  They currently sit atop the AL East, four games ahead of the second place Toronto Blue Jays.  The Orioles are the only team in the division with winning records both at home and away so far this season.  The Orioles are just one of two teams with winning records against the AL East, the other being Toronto.

The Orioles strength this season has yet again been the offense.  They have the 4th highest batting average and the fifth highest slugging percentage in the league.  They have hit the second most home runs in the league, behind only Toronto.  It would be a let down if the team does not keep this up, especially since the birds had the most all star starters in the AL.

When their perennial all star catcher, Matt Wieters, ended his season by getting Tommy John surgery, no one knew what would happen at that spot.  Caleb Joseph was called up, Steve Clevenger became the starting catcher, and the Orioles traded for Nick Hundley.  Caleb Joseph has shined since being called up, catching over 50% of baserunners trying to steal a base.  He has certainly filled the shoes of one of the best defensive catchers in the game.

Starting pitching has been a serious problem so far.  The club ERA is right in the middle of the league at 15th, but toward the bottom in WHIP and quality starts.  The Orioles picked up some big name starters this offseason in Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-min Yoon.  While Yoon has had health issues at the AAA level, Jimenez has been a total disappointment so far.  He is averaging 5.4 walks allowed per nine innings pitched and has an ERA of 4.52.

Looking forward, the Orioles must address their starting pitching.  The biggest name in the market right now is David Price, but the Rays would probably ask too much for him from someone in their own division.  With him off the radar, there isn’t really a clear cut answer on whether or not the birds make a splash before the trade deadline or if they try and improve from within.  Jimenez going on the DL was one of the best things that could happen for the rotation.  Gausman has been called on to replace him in the rotation, which is huge.  Gausman has had an incredible year with the Orioles, being one of the more dominant pitchers the birds have used.  Being a fireballer, he has the ability to make people miss if his off speed pitches are accurate.  Once Jimenez comes off the DL, he will probably be reassigned to the bullpen if Gausman has been winning.

Since the rotation has more issues than just Jimenez, expect to see Suk-min Yoon in the orange and black before roster expansions come.  Since the Orioles would more than likely not use a six man bullpen were they to make it to the playoffs, expect either Miguel Gonzalez or Wei-Yin Chen would be the person sent down.  Gonzalez has been inconsistent all year and Chen has been consistent through the fourth inning.  Past that, it’s a toss up if we see the Chen that will barely make it five innings or the one that makes it eight.

The Orioles defense has, once again, been stellar.  The team leads the league in double plays turned, even with all the injuries throughout the year.  Since they have been one of the best defensive teams in the majors for the past couple seasons, it doesn’t seem like there is anything to really worry about.  As long as this keeps up, they will remain legitimate contenders to win the division.

Hitting is one thing that the Orioles could improve upon.  The birds rely very heavily on home runs, scoring over half of their runs via the long ball.  The problem here is that not every park is as hitter friendly as Camden Yards.  They need to find a way to score without hitting home runs if they want to win in big ballparks like Comerica, which would be where they would play in the ALDS if the season were over today.  When the bats go cold and no one knocks any dingers, the Orioles fail to score more than one or two runs.  There needs to be some sort of strategy to score that doesn’t rely on swinging for the fences because it will not always work.

The Orioles have 68 games left in the regular season.  Since the birds have played very well against the AL East this year, it would be a shame to see them play sub-.500 baseball for the remainder of the season.  Knowing that the Blue Jays will become a legitimate threat once Edwin Encarnacion returns from injury, the Orioles need to build at least a seven game lead in the division before that happens.  If they can do this, then it would take a massive meltdown from the Orioles to not win the East.

Based on what we have seen for the season so far, barring any major setbacks, the Orioles will probably end somewhere around a 90-72 record and win the East.  They will probably end up drawing the winner in the Central, the Detroit Tigers.  Past that, it remains to be seen.

Comments (0)

B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles 2nd Half Bold Predictions

Tags: ,

B&B Big Story Banter: Orioles 2nd Half Bold Predictions

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Brett Dickinson

By: Brett Dickinson and Barry Kamen

The “second half” of the season is set to kick off and currently the Baltimore Orioles are sitting in first place in the AL East.  Looking into the final couple months of the season Brett and Barry go out on a limb and give their bold predictions for how the team/players will finish out the 2014 season.

 

BRETT 

1. Chris Davis will finish the season batting above .250

It has been a really rough season for the Orioles first basemen, as he has struggled adjusting to the new found attention received by opposing pitchers and defensive shifts.  He has been hovering around the .200 “mendoza line” since returning from an oblique strain in May.  Though we may never see the 2013 Chris Davis ever again, he should be able to bounce back with the extra rest of the All Star break and regain some of that form that terrorized the entire league.  If Davis were to get on a hot streak, it is certainly not inconcievable to think he could raise his batting average 40-50 points, while knocking out another 15-20 home runs.  In the end, he may finish the season looking like the 2012 version of himself and that could be good enough with a lineup that includes Nelson Cruz and Adam Jones.

 

2. Ubaldo Jimenez will finish the season with a winning record

Though Ubaldo Jimenez has been a monumental disappointment so far for the Orioles, he has shown flashes of being the front-end starter the Orioles signed in the off season.  Getting the extra couple days rest with his 15 Day DL stint, right before the All-Star break, will give him the needed time to regroup mentally and physically.  Already known as a second half pitcher, expect to see a much better version of Jimenez in the coming months, where he could finish with 8-2 record, putting him above .500 for the season.

 

A.J. Burnett3. The Orioles will trade Steve Lombardozzi and T.J. McFarland to the Phillies for A.J. Burnett

Many people were clamoring for the hometown Burnett before the Jimenez signing this off season and will finally get their wish.  Lombardozzi has been mis-utilized by the Orioles and will be better suited in the NL, with opportunities in every game.  While bringing in an arm like Burnett, who is on a one-year deal, one of the rotational pitchers will be sent to the bullpen, rendering McFarland expendable.  The move would make sense, as Burnett is familiar with the division and can play for a contender, while the Phillies obtain two players that could fill specific roles in their rebuild efforts.

Barry 

1) David Lough will stick with the Orioles for the duration of the 162 game season. 

Since the Orioles have already played 95 games, what’s another 67 with David Lough? The struggles of the former Royal have been well documented, as the term “pinch running specialist” is the most fitting term for Lough’s resume. Something tells me that Buck Showalter will continue to keep Lough on the season, and a gut instinct tells me that he picks up his play in the second half. With a ton of games against the AL West, Lough might see a couple of starts on the road-trip. If he performs well at the plate, he could solidify a spot as a bench player for the long haul.

2) The September call-up that will make an impact on the Orioles’ playoff chances is NOT Dylan Bundy. 

Despite his recent struggles at high-A Frederick, there is a very good chance that Bundy sees time in the major leagues come September. With a bullpen that will surely be overworked come mid-August, Bundy will be counted on to eat some innings, work on command of his secondary pitches, and learn the ropes as a reliever at the major league level. However, I do not expect Bundy’s performance to be overwhelmingly positive.

Two players to monitor for a September call-up splash: 1B Christian Walker and IF Steve Lombardozzi. Walker just received a promotion to Norfolk after a very successful stay in Bowie. With the Orioles trading away Brett Wallace, Walker will be the full-time first baseman, and if he continues to hit, could force his way onto the 40 man roster. With Chris Davis’ struggle to hit for average, Walker’s bat could be the biggest surprise of any contending team out there. If Lombardozzi is not traded to the Phillies, the Atholton grad could be a firecracker off of the bench. Switch-hitting abilities, versatility in the infield, and above-average speed could all equate to September playing time for a team that could be in a situation where they can afford to rest everyday starters from time to time.

 

3) Caleb Joseph’s play will make Matt Wieters a candidate to start the 2015 season as a first basemen. 

I know, I know. Chris Davis is under contract for next season, and I just sung the praises of young Christian Walker. But hear me out. Given the workload that Wieters has had behind the plate in his career, and the Tommy John surgery that will keep him on the bench for the rest of the season, the time to think about a position change is now. Caleb Joseph has shown Orioles fans that he can catch at the major league level. His rapport with Kevin Gausman from their days in the minor leagues will be very helpful down the stretch. Chris Davis has not shied away from playing different positions through his tenure with the Orioles. If the Orioles choose not to re-sign Nick Markakis, or lose out to a team that overwhelms their offer, could Davis become the everyday right fielder? Could Wieters and Walker split first base duties, with Wieters serving as a backup catcher to Joseph and DH candidate against left-handed pitching?

Now we’ve got you thinking. You wanted bold, we gave you bold! Enjoy the second half, and enjoy the Brett & Barry Show.

 

Comments (1)

Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Sitting in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1997 didn’t exactly earn the Orioles any favors as they started the second half of the season in Oakland on Friday night.

A 10-game West Coast trip against the two teams with the best records in the majors and the second wild card leader in the American League probably gave manager Buck Showalter a restless night or two over this week’s respite. Knowing the Orioles play their next 23 games against clubs with winning records — not to mention the six following that against teams with .500 marks at the break — likely made him lose even more sleep.

Of course, Showalter and the Orioles have every right to feel good about themselves after winning 25 of their last 40 to move to 10 games above .500 and turn a 4 1/2-game deficit into a four-game lead over that stretch. They’ve built themselves a small cushion in a division in which no one is without sizable warts and imperfections with Toronto and New York seemingly moving in the wrong direction and Boston and Tampa Bay being mostly bad all season.

No, the trip to the West Coast will neither break nor make the Orioles’ chances of winning their first American League East title since 1997, but those 10 games allow them an opportunity to flex their muscles as a man amongst boys in an underwhelming division. Holding their own in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle — even going 5-5 — would not only keep the Orioles in first place but allow them to return home in late July in prime position to continue their quest to a second postseason appearance in the last three years.

A strong showing against the imposing AL West over the next couple weeks could be the difference between a relatively comfortable journey to October and needing to scratch and claw over the final two months of the regular season. In the same way that the Orioles took advantage of the recent struggles of the Blue Jays, the rest of the AL East will be rooting for Baltimore to wilt before finally returning to Camden Yards on July 29.

A starting rotation that’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA over its last 33 games will now face the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball over the next six contests. It was a 1-6 run against the Athletics and the Angels earlier this month that saw the Blue Jays’ one-game lead in the division turn into a 2 1/2-game deficit by the time they left the West Coast.

Even with the daunting stretch staring them in the face, the Orioles couldn’t ask for better timing as they’ll feel more rested now than they will at any point over the rest of the season. Aside from the current ankle injury to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — which many critics would deem a blessing anyway — the Orioles are as healthy as they’ve been at any point during the first half of the season.

Showalter has set up his rotation to include the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman — who could finally be with the Orioles for good — and will be looking for his starting pitchers to pick up where they left off to close the first half. And he’ll hope the inconsistent offense — currently ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored — will finally hit its stride and struggling first baseman Chris Davis starts looking more like the force he was a year ago and less like the .199 hitter who was lost at the plate for the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

By no means was it a perfect first half for the first-place Orioles as they lost catcher Matt Wieters for the season and saw their $50 million investment in Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Baltimore was the least flawed of anyone in the division and still appears that way beginning the most difficult road trip of the season.

The Orioles can use these next 10 games to flex their muscles as the clear favorite in the division and solidify their first-place standing or could see themselves fall back with the rest of the imperfect pack in the AL East.

They’ve grown accustomed to being the hunter over the last three seasons; it will be interesting to see how they start the second half as the hunted after four days off to think about it.

By no means is it do or die, but the West Coast trip will be an opportunity for the Orioles to stake their claim as the overwhelming favorite in the division while sampling what they could see again in October.

 

Comments (1)

Tags: , ,

Orioles celebrating 60th anniversary on Aug. 8

Posted on 18 July 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced plans on Thursday to celebrate their 60th Anniversary season in Baltimore with a series of events before, during and after their August 8 game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Orioles are welcoming back 23 Orioles Hall of Famers, who will take part in a spectacular post-game celebration. Expected to attend are Orioles Legends EDDIE MURRAY, CAL RIPKEN, JR., BROOKS ROBINSON, and FRANK ROBINSON, as well as the following Orioles Hall of Famers: BRADY ANDERSON, MIKE BORDICK, DON BUFORD, AL BUMBRY, DOUG DeCINCES, RICK DEMPSEY, DICK HALL, CHRIS HOILES, BILL HUNTER, DENNIS MARTINEZ, TIPPY MARTINEZ, SCOTT McGREGOR, RAY MILLER, GREGG OLSON, MILT PAPPAS, BOOG POWELL, KEN SINGLETON, B.J. SURHOFF, and EDDIE WATT.

During special pre-game ceremonies, the Orioles will honor long-time season plan holders who have been with the club since the inaugural season in 1954. The Orioles will also recognize the Oriole Advocates organization for hosting the sold-out 60th Anniversary luncheon, which will honor members of the Orioles Hall of Fame earlier in the day.

During the game, the Orioles will wear 1954 replica throwback uniforms that will later be autographed and auctioned off at www.orioles.com/auction to raise funds for the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation.

Following the game, the Orioles Hall of Famers will be introduced on the field during a laser light and fireworks display, which will feature highlights from the Orioles’ 60 years in Baltimore that will be displayed on the Oriole Park video boards and the side of the B&O Warehouse.

Tickets for the August 8 game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals are available at www.orioles.com/tickets or by calling 1-888-848-BIRD.

The Orioles have been celebrating the 60th Anniversary all year long, including several promotions and giveaways. Upcoming events, in addition to August 8, include a 60th Anniversary ¾ sleeve t-shirt giveaway (first 20,000 fans 15 & over) on August 1 vs. Seattle and a Wild Bill Cowboy Hat giveaway (first 20,000 fans 15 & over) on August 9 vs. St. Louis.

Comments (0)

MLB Needs To End This All-Star Game Charade

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MLB Needs To End This All-Star Game Charade

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Peter Dilutis

Fast forward three months. Our Baltimore Orioles have made it to the World Series for the first time since 1983, matching up against the Atlanta Braves. It’s the situation that we all dream about when we’re kids playing catch in the backyard or taking batting practice on the neighborhood fields.

Game 7 of the World Series. Bottom of the 9th inning. Tied game. Bases loaded. Two outs. Full count. The fans are going absolutely bonkers. Baltimore is a ball four, walk, hit or error away from walking off with their first World Series win in 21 years.

And why is it they are in position to walk off with the win?

Because just three months earlier, Pat Neshek entered the All-Star Game, played at Target Field, home of the 44-50 Minnesota Twins, and gave up three runs to the American League, including a sacrifice fly from Jose Altuve, member of the 40-56 Houston Astros.

Wait…what?

It has absolutely nothing to do with what team had the better regular season record. Where the seventh game of the World Series is played has nothing to do with either of the teams participating in the series, unless of course members of those respective teams made an impact, positively or negatively, in the All-Star game.

Rather, representatives from all 30 teams, 20 of which will not make the postseason and 22 of which will not make it past the play-in games, determine where that legacy-defining Game 7 is played.

In what alternate universe does that make sense? You’re telling me that a bunch of millionaires in $25,000 suits got together, deliberated in a boardroom and came out with this solution?

Imagine if Luis Gonzalez’ hit over Derek Jeter’s glove in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series would have simply put the Diamondbacks up 3-2 rather than ending the game? What if history was re-written and that Game 7 had actually been played in New York? In 2001, the American League won the All-Star game. Under our current All-Star game rules, that legacy-defining game would have in fact been played at Yankee Stadium. How might that have changed the legacy of Derek Jeter? He could have six rings instead of five. Joe Torre would have another World Series under his belt. Even Mike Mussina could have a ring to display on his mantle had the location of the seventh game been switched to the Big Apple. Crazy stuff.

We’re talking about a game in which AL manager John Farrell admitted that his main objective was not to win, but to get as many players in the game as possible. And let’s be honest – why does John Farrell care who wins the game? His Boston Red Sox are 43-52, 9.5 games behind the Orioles and they’re more concerned with what kind of young haul they can get for Jon Lester at the deadline than what stadium they’re going to be playing in come October. We’re talking about a game in which Adam Wainwright admitted to grooving pitches right down 5th Avenue to leadoff man Derek Jeter in his final “farewell” All-Star Game sendoff. Jeter doubled in his first at bat and later scored. The American League went on to score three runs in the first inning.

Ultimately, they won the game by two runs, 5-3.

Had Adam Wainwright actually tried to pitch to Derek Jeter, the National League very well may have won the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, awarding them home field advantage in the 2014 World Series. Meaning, of course, that in my above scenario, a run would not walk the game off for the Orioles. Instead, the Atlanta Braves, or whoever their opponent would be in our dream scenario, would get one more at bat in the bottom of the inning with a chance to tie or win the game.

Hundreds of years from now, when all of us are dead and gone, the 2014 World Series winner will live in infamy in countless record books and libraries throughout the sports world. Legacies will be defined. Future contracts will be signed. Statues may very well be erected. Hall of Fame candidacy will be voted upon.

And all of that history could be changed in a flash – because of an All-Star Game played in July amongst members of all 30 MLB teams that served more as a spectacle and farewell tour to Derek Jeter than it did as a real game.

The NBA All-Star game is nothing more than a glorified dunk contest. Roger Goodell has threatened to put an end to the NFL Pro Bowl because the players just won’t take it seriously. And as we saw from Adam Wainwright on Tuesday night, major league baseball players don’t REALLY care about winning. Derek Jeter’s 4th inning moment yesterday was always going to more important than the end result of the game. Undoubtedly, more people know about that moment than know the end result of the game. The same thing happened last year at Citi Field when Mariano Rivera was paraded out in the 8th inning as Enter Sandman blasted over the speakers.

The All-Star Game is an entertainment spectacle. It is NOT a competitive game. Not even close.

By placing such a high importance on the result of a glorified exhibition game, Bud Selig and the powers that be within Major League Baseball are putting the integrity of this great game on the line. It may not seem like such a big deal right now. It’s hard to really understand the significance of something, whether we’re talking sports or life in general, until your life and/or interests are directly impacted.

But when you’re favorite baseball team is on the mound in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series, watching the opposing team walking off the field with a one run win in front of the home fans, perhaps you too will question the logic and integrity of the current All-Star Game format.

In the meantime, I guess all of us Orioles fans should be thankful that the American League won, right?

 

Comments (2)

Aiming high only way to go if Orioles want to add starting pitching

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Aiming high only way to go if Orioles want to add starting pitching

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Luke Jones

You can never have too much starting pitching, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has repeated that sentiment despite the Orioles enjoying a four-game lead in the American League East at the All-Star break.

The Orioles rank fifth in the American League in pitching and 11th in starting pitching, but unlike the last couple seasons in which they were often desperately looking for just a warm body or two to add to the mix, the starting rotation appears to be moving in the right direction. Even with the season-long struggles of the injured Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting pitching has posted a 3.18 ERA over the last 33 games spanning 198 innings, lowering the starting pitching ERA from 4.61 to 4.09 since June 9.

No one will mistake this rotation for the 1971 Orioles, but Duquette should be picky in any quest to add starting pitching between now and the trade deadline at the end of the month. Wondering whether the club has the quality to compete with the front end of other playoff rotations in October is fair, but the upside of Kevin Gausman and even the second-half track record of Jimenez — who has been dominant for stretches of his career when his mechanics are in order — will be worth monitoring down the stretch with an eye toward the postseason.

Even if the Orioles still lack top-half quality, they have more stability in their rotation than they’ve enjoyed in a long time.

Manager Buck Showalter has used just seven starting pitchers all year with one of them — lefty reliever T.J. McFarland — receiving only one start. In 2013, 14 different pitchers made starts and 10 made at least four starts. The year before that, 12 different hurlers made starts with 10 making at least four starts.

Stability — with relatively decent health — has afforded Duquette the luxury of not needing to look for the likes of Scott Feldman, Joe Saunders, Jair Jurrjens, and Freddy Garcia on this year’s market. That’s what made the recent news of the Orioles scouting Colorado lefty Jorge De La Rosa that much more perplexing as he doesn’t represent an apparent upgrade over anyone — including Jimenez — in the current rotation with his 4.56 ERA in 2014 and 4.69 career mark.

The Orioles have also been linked to San Diego’s Ian Kennedy, who has posted a 3.47 ERA in 20 starts, but he’s a career 3.94 ERA pitcher who’s spent most of his career in the National League. The Padres will likely be asking for a lot for the right-hander, and Duquette shouldn’t part ways with the precious few top prospects he has unless he’s positive he’s gaining a substantial upgrade. Kennedy may provide that, but his talent level should only be the baseline at which the Orioles are looking at this point.

More so than even in 2013 or 2012, the Orioles have plenty of quality when it comes to filling out the back of the rotation. They have an abundance of No. 4 and No. 5 starters.

An injury or two could obviously change that tune quickly, but Duquette must aim high if the Orioles are to add starting pitching between now and the end of the July. Jeff Samardzija has already been dealt to Oakland and David Price may not be traded at all — and they probably don’t have the freight to acquire the AL East pitcher, anyway — but those are the types of arms to be examining.

Anything less is just a waste of time and resources.

Standing pat at catcher

Many have asked about the possibility of the Orioles adding another catcher to the mix as Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley have handled the workload since Matt Wieters underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery, but Duquette has said on several occasions that they’re unlikely to make another move in that department.

Boston officially released A.J. Pierzynski on Wednesday, but the Orioles don’t view him as a significant upgrade offensively — the 37-year-old posted just a .633 on-base plus slugging percentage with the Red Sox — to compromise the rapport Joseph and Hundley have built with the pitching staff and the defensive work they’ve displayed over the better part of two months. And that’s not even mentioning Pierzynski’s outspoken personality that could potentially compromise a strong clubhouse.

Hundley has come on lately with the bat, raising his average to a respectable .250, while Joseph has posted a .690 OPS since the beginning of June and had a solid offensive track record in the minor leagues despite his current .187 average. Neither will fool you as quality offensive catchers, but trying to add an impact backstop while bringing him up to speed with the pitching staff will be extremely difficult.

If the Orioles are looking for an offensive boost, they could take another extended look at Steve Clevenger, but Showalter is going to value defensive work behind the plate and the current duo — particularly Joseph — has done an admirable job in that department.

Left-handed bat still needed

The emergence of Steve Pearce has been one of the great stories of the 2014 season, but the Orioles shouldn’t assume the 31-year-old will continue to perform at a rate that warrants everyday playing time with no questions asked.

His .316 average, 11 home runs, and 31 runs batted in are a major reason why Baltimore currently sits in first place, but it’s still a stretch to expect his current .300 average and .846 OPS against right-handed pitching to continue. For his career, Pearce is hitting just .237 with a .667 OPS against right-handers and that’s including his amazing numbers this season.

In other words, a left-handed hitting outfielder that feasts against right-handed pitching should be a priority to add for the stretch as the only left-handed bats to make real contributions this season are Nick Markakis and the struggling Chris Davis. The speedy Lough has been a major disappointment at the plate, and the Orioles must anticipate the possibility of needing to platoon Pearce if he reverts to his career form.

Even if Pearce continues to thrive as an everyday player, the Orioles would benefit from a left-handed version of Delmon Young to come off the bench in the late innings as Lough and utility player Ryan Flaherty just don’t provide formidable options at the plate. The Orioles had looked into the services of Padres outfielder Seth Smith, who feasts against right-handed pitching, before he signed a two-year extension with San Diego earlier this month.

A player of that ilk would make perfect sense for the roster.

Pondering futures of Cruz and Davis

It’s incredible to think how much can change in a year as Orioles fans were clamoring for the organization to sign Davis to a long-term contract as he entered the All-Star break with 37 home runs last year and would go on to hit a franchise record 53 in 2013. Meanwhile, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was a couple weeks away from beginning a 50-game suspension stemming from his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

A year later, Davis sits with a lowly .199 average at the break while Cruz has parlayed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles into what looks like a pending lucrative payday as he’s second in the majors with 28 home runs and has often carried the Baltimore offense this year while Davis and others have struggled.

It’s interesting to see so many fans crushing Davis for his poor first half — that’s not to say criticism hasn’t been warranted — while screaming for the Orioles to sign the 34-year-old Cruz to a long-term contract when many of those same fans wanted to give Davis the keys to the city last offseason.

The Orioles will certainly make Cruz a qualifying offer after the season to at least recover a draft pick and should see if he’s willing to sign a short-term extension at a higher annual cost per year, but giving him more than two or three years at the most would be a mistake for an aging player coming off what looks to be his career year.

Davis’ future will be more interesting to figure out as he tries to rebound from a miserable first half and remains under team control through next season.

 

 

Comments (2)