Tag Archive | "nate mclouth"

Let’s hope David Lough knows how to play “Crocodile Rock”

Tags: , , ,

Let’s hope David Lough knows how to play “Crocodile Rock”

Posted on 19 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Give Dan Duquette credit.

Prior to last week’s Winter Meetings in Florida, Duquette pledged he was on the look-out for several things, one of those being a left-handed bat.

He made good on that promise yesterday.

It wasn’t quite the Shin-Soo Choo holiday gift we were all hoping for; instead it was a guy who has 400 career at bats in the major leagues.

The acquisition of David Lough on Wednesday wasn’t a “horrible move”.  For starters, the departure of Danny Valencia isn’t going to cost the Orioles a half dozen wins or anything, but they will need to replace his bat against left handed pitching.  Valencia was virtually one dimensional.  He was bat only, although his glove could fill-in for a day or two if one of the infielders had to take a day or two off.

Lough is what the experts call a “plus defender”, which is usually a way of saying a guy is really, really good defensively — and that makes up for the fact he’s not all that good at the plate.

Here’s what David Lough is — and here’s why the move is a typical Orioles maneuver.

He’s basically a cheaper version of Nate McLouth.

McLouth might be a tad more effective with the lumber in his hands.  Lough has a better arm in the outfield and is a little more versatile positionally.  They both have decent speed.  McLouth probably hits a couple of more home runs per-season than Lough, and his plate discipline is better.

McLouth, though, makes $5 million per-year.

Lough makes $500,000.

Checkmate.

It’s basically a lateral move that saves the Orioles $4.5 million.

Now, please understand this:  If I thought the Orioles were taking that $4.5 million and doing “something” with it, I’d probably be much more excited about the move.

If they were working on a deal for, let’s say, David Price from Tampa Bay, and they were going to use that $4.5 million in part to pay him the $16-18 million he’s going to command in 2014, I’d be doing cartwheels.

David Price is a game changer.

They’re not getting David Price, of course.  The Orioles wouldn’t pay a pitcher $18 million if Walter Johnson came back from the dead and said, “I have three great years left, give me $54 million and let’s go beat the Yankees and Red Sox.”

If I thought the Orioles were taking that $4.5 million and putting it in a hedge fund somewhere along with all that MASN money they’ve been hoarding in an attempt to make a boatload of cash to hand over to Chris Davis sometime over the next 12 months, I’d say, “OK, you gotta give a little to get a lot…I understand that way of thinking.”

But, that’s not what they’re doing.  If Chris Davis puts up something in the neighborhood of 50 HR, 120 RBI again, he’ll be on the verge of becoming one of those $150 million/7 year baseball players and that immediately takes him OUT of Baltimore and in either Boston, New York, Detroit or Seattle.

If they were spending some of that $4.5 million they were saving on the likes of a “real” left-handed hitter like Shin-Soo Choo and making Lough their 4th outfielder – a la Chris Dickerson, say – I’d be very comfortable with that kind of move.

Instead, here’s what happens to that $4.5 million they saved on McLouth:  They’ll take that money they saved by flipping McLouth for Lough – in essence – and simply say, “That’s how you build a good team in a limited market.”

I hope David Lough works out.

As it stands now, it would appear the Orioles have four left-fielder types, none of which are even close to being “a sure thing”.  Nolan Reimold=suspect. Francisco Peguero=suspect.  Steve Pearce=suspect.  Lough=suspect.

They need Lough to come through, since I think we all know the chances of any of the other three breaking through with some sort of magical, career year are relatively slim.

Then again, this is what Duquette does best.  He plucks piano movers away from teams, hands them the notes to Elton John’s Greatest Hits, and effectively says, “I know you’ve only moved pianos your whole life.  But I was hoping you might be able to play Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.”

Duquette tries to make piano movers into piano players.

The great teams simply hire piano players to do that.

 

Comments (9)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Orioles decline Casilla’s 2014 option, pass on making qualifying offers to free agents

Posted on 05 November 2013 by WNST Staff

Already in the process of shaping their 2014 roster, the Orioles made several decisions regarding their own free agents on Monday.

The club declined a $3 million option for the 2014 season in infielder Alexi Casilla’s contract, making him a free agent after a $200,000 buyout. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette also passed on making one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offers in 2014 for free agents Brian Roberts, Jason Hammel, and Nate McLouth.

Seven players on the 2013 Orioles declared for free agency following the World Series: Roberts, Hammel, McLouth, right-handed pitchers Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez, outfielder Michael Morse, and catcher Chris Snyder. The Orioles have expressed interest in retaining some of their own free agents, but no formal discussions have taken place.

The Orioles also added 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Chris Jones to their 40-man roster and reinstated third baseman Manny Machado (knee surgery) and outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck surgery) to the 40-man roster after each finished the 2013 season on the 60-day disabled list.

With Reimold eligible for arbitration, the Orioles could forgo tendering him a contract and attempt to re-sign him as a non-roster invitee who would not take a spot on the 40-man roster.

Comments (0)

Nate McLouth

Tags: , , , , ,

Replacing Roberts: A Closer Look at the Combination of McLouth/Markakis at the Lead-off Spot

Posted on 06 July 2013 by benheck

It’s no secret that the lead-off man is one of the most important pieces to a baseball lineup, outside of the clean-up hitter. The lead-off man’s job is to get on base as often as possible, putting himself in position to score when the heart of the lineup comes to the plate. It’s also vital that the lead-off man possesses sufficient speed and base-running abilities.

The Baltimore Orioles have had a top-tier lead-off man in second baseman Brian Roberts for eight seasons before the now-35 year old’s career began to unravel due to injury.

Though he’s back in the line-up as designated hitter now, Roberts will never be what he once was for the Orioles. In his prime, Roberts would hit .300, score 100 runs, drive in 50 additional runs while stealing 40-50 bags and post a .370 on-base percentage. The two-time All-Star had a great glove at second to add on to his accomplishments with the cellar-dwelling Orioles in the mid-2000s.

Now that the Orioles are in playoff contention, Brian has struggled to consistently stay on the field and in the lineup. Thanks to a multitude of health issues over the past few seasons––including concussions and back problems––Roberts has played in a combined 123 games since the 2010 season.

Because of his health issues, the Orioles have struggled to find a viable replacement at the top of the batting order. Over the last four seasons, Baltimore has experimented with numerous different lead-off men, including but not limited to: Corey Patterson, Lou Montanez, Felix Pie, Adam Jones, Robert Andino, J.J. Hardy, Matt Angle, Nolan Reimold, Endy Chavez, Xavier Avery, Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth.

It wasn’t until last July 13 that the Orioles finally stuck with one player consistently in Roberts’ absence. Right fielder Nick Markakis, primarily a No. 3 hitter over his eight-year Major League Baseball career. At the top spot in the order for 54 consecutive games from July to the beginning of September, Baltimore posted a 33-21 record with Markakis posting a .335 average and .390 on-base percentage. In 246 plate appearances, Markakis scored 34 runs, drove in 28 more and posted a 20/14 BB-K ratio. Markakis didn’t steal any bases from the lead-off position, but did his job by getting on base and putting Baltimore in position to put runs on the board.

This all came just after returning from his first disabled list stint in his MLB career following surgery to remove part of the hamate bone in his right wrist. Unfortunately Baltimore was forced to switch lead-off batters once again when Markakis was lost for the season with a fractured thumb on September 8.

Manager Buck Showalter turned to another veteran to fill Markakis’ void in the lead-off slot, left fielder Nate McLouth.

Signed to a Minor League deal just a few months prior, McLouth was looking for one last chance at proving he still belongs in the majors. Buck didn’t hesitate to throw McLouth in there at lead-off following Markakis’ second injury, and it didn’t take long for him to get acclimated at the lead-off spot for the playoff-bound O’s. He started 22 of the final 23 games at left field, leading off, as the O’s posted a 15-8 record over that span.

Though his numbers didn’t quite compare to Markakis’ in 2012 as the lead-off man, McLouth’s bat and base-running down the stretch became a vital part in the postseason run. In six postseason games, McLouth hit .321 and stole three bases.

Heading into 2013, Showalter had a big decision to make: Markakis or McLouth? Who should get the coveted spot at the lead-off position? Being one of the most important spots in the line-up, right behind the clean-up spot, the decision could impact the team in the long run.

Instead of making a decision and sticking with it, Showalter has taken a bit of a different stance on the issue: sharing the lead-off spot between the two of them. Through July 5, Markakis has started 22 of his 85 games at lead-off (the rest of the time he hits third in the lineup) with McLouth hitting lead-off in 64 of his 76 games.

Though it’s not a 50/50 split, you’d still think it would be tough to switch up the line-up so often, rather than consistently sticking with one guy over the 162-game season. It could take away from the team chemistry in and around the clubhouse, and possibly effect the play of the two players.

Or so you’d think.

Instead, McLouth has become an even bigger piece to the 48-39 Baltimore squad, putting up a .289/.363/.411 line with a career-high 24 stolen bases. Overall this season, McLouth’s on-base percentage currently sits at .361, which is higher than he’s ever posted over his nine-year career with Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Baltimore.

Markakis is in the middle of a heated battle with Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista in the American League All-Star voting. Whether Markakis gets to take a trip to his first-career All-Star game this season or not will not take away from the success he’s had in 2013. After a rough season injury-wise in 2012, Markakis appears to be as healthy as ever over his 85 games. The left-handed 29-year old is hitting .291 with 52 runs and 43 runs batted in. Though his on-base percentage is rather low compared to the rest of his career (.339; his career OBP is .363), he’s elevated his game in the lead-off spot in the line-up.

Over his 22 starts and 102 plate appearances at the No. 1 spot in the Baltimore lineup, Markakis is hitting .351 with 12 runs and a .373 on-base percentage, which is well-above his career OBP. He hasn’t been stealing bases––in fact he hasn’t stolen a single one all season––but that’s the good thing about the lead-off spot: you don’t need to steal bases. Clearly Roberts did over his Baltimore career, including 50 in a single-season, but stolen bases from your lead-off man is just a bonus. What you need from the first batter is the ability to get on-base, run the bases cleanly and score runs.

That’s why McLouth has been such a commodity this season––he gets on-base, runs the bases superbly, including stealing 24 bags, and puts runs across the plate. Though it’s not what Roberts was in his prime, the combination of Markakis and McLouth at the No. 1 spot in the order has been refreshing and very effective for Buck’s Birds.

McLouth provides the walks and the speed on the base paths while Markakis provides Baltimore with the average and runs batted in. It can be a deadly combination, for teams to be forced to face two different lead-off men in the same series, especially given their different strengths.

It may not be quite the same as Roberts’ 2007 season in which he batted in 57, scored 103 runs, hit 42 two-baggers, stole 50 bases all while hitting .290 over his 156 games. But the McLouth/Markakis duo at the lead-off position is working for Baltimore, and has kept them alive in the hunt for the AL East division in 2012 and 2013 thus far.

Comments (0)

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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

Posted on 15 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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

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

Comments (0)

chris-davis-bat-break

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Showalter not crazy about Davis’ Bo Jackson impersonation

Posted on 17 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Tampa Bay lefty Matt Moore taking the hill against the Orioles on Wednesday night, manager Buck Showalter has altered his regular lineup in the second game of the series.

Switch-hitter Alexi Casilla will start at second base instead of Ryan Flaherty, but Nate McLouth will remain in left field in lieu of Steve Pearce earning the start as the designated hitter and Nolan Reimold moving to the outfield. In a small sample size of just two starts, Moore has actually allowed more hits to lefty bats (2-for-11) than right-handed hitters (1-for-24) and can struggle with his command against left-handed hitters. In his brief career that began in 2011, Moore is allowing right-handers to bat .229 while lefties are .238 against him.

Moore hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11 1/3 innings this season, but the 23-year-old has also walked eight batters, including six in his last start against Texas. Patience will be the theme for the approach at the plate for Orioles hitters.

With the Orioles schedule to face left-handed starters in each of the next two games following Wednesday’s tilt, Showalter didn’t want McLouth to sit for an extended period but said Pearce will be in the starting lineup on Thursday against Rays ace David Price. However, Casilla figures to see action in each of the next three games with Flaherty off to a 2-for-28 start this season.

Pitchers Steve Johnson and Tsuyoshi Wada will each throw in Sarasota on Thursday with the former expected to join a minor-league club on either a rehab assignment or an option if all goes well. The right-hander will throw four innings while Wada will toss three as he continues to make his way back from last year’s Tommy John surgery.

Despite rumors of the Orioles being interested in Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon, the 27-year-old was place on waivers this afternoon as Texas’ asking price was apparently too steep. The left-handed hitting outfielder provides good speed, but he wouldn’t appear to be a dramatic upgrade over current reserve Chris Dickerson, making it unsurprising that the Orioles weren’t willing to meet the Rangers’ demand.

Now, we’ll wait to see if the Orioles put in a claim and, more importantly, are successful in acquiring him.

The struggles of reliever Pedro Strop were also a topic of discussion prior to the second game of the series. Showalter was quick to remind everyone how successful the right-handed power arm was prior to his late-season struggles a year ago.

Strop allowed two home runs in the eighth inning and is sporting a 10.80 earned run average in six appearances covering five innings. Of course, the Orioles were forced to use five relievers with starter Jake Arrieta lasting only five innings in the series opener.

“I think he’s going to do some good things for us this year,” said Showalter, who noted that Strop hadn’t pitched since Friday and wanted to give him some work. “He already has. He’s gotten some big outs already; last night wasn’t one of them. It was a pretty long chain there because we only got five innings out of our starter.”

Showalter was asked about Tuesday’s incident in which first baseman Chris Davis broke his bat over his knee after striking out, which instantly became an internet hit. The Baltimore manager clearly didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but Showalter didn’t sound as though he wanted to see a repeat performance of the move Bo Jackson made famous in the 1980s.

“I’d just like to be able to do it myself,” said Showalter before answering more seriously. “What are you going to do? It’s risky. I think I’d be more inclined [to say], ‘Let’s do something that kept us from being that mad. Maybe you can take that pitch.’ He’s not the first guy or the last guy [to do it].”

Regardless of Showalter’s feelings, here’s another look at Davis’ bat-break, courtesy of Cork Gaines:

Here are Wednesday’s lineups…

BALTIMORE
RF Nick Markakis
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Nate McLouth
DH Nolan Reimold
2B Alexi Casilla

SP Chris Tillman (0-0, 7.00 ERA)

TAMPA BAY
CF Desmond Jennings
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
LF Matt Joyce
DH Shelley Duncan
1B James Loney
C Jose Molina
SS Yunel Escobar

SP Matt Moore (2-0, 0.00 ERA)

Comments (0)

Key word for the Orioles in 2013?  Same one as 2012…”luck”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Key word for the Orioles in 2013? Same one as 2012…”luck”

Posted on 13 February 2013 by Drew Forrester

My first baseball blog of 2013.

And it’s February 13.

Then again, there’s not really been any legitimate reason to write about the Orioles since January 1.  First, the football team kept us all in constant contact with Purple Fever, which made writing and opining about anything BUT the Ravens a waste of time.  And, obviously, the Orioles haven’t done anything worth commenting on…unless you count the signing of a broken-down Jair Jurrjens as a move deserving of evaluation.  I didn’t.

But, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Tuesday and the rest of the players showing up by Friday, it’s clearly time to start discussing our orange-feathered-friends with an eye towards the 2013 campaign.

As our very own Luke Jones assessed RIGHT HERE on Tuesday at WNST.net, it’s been a listless off-season for the Birds.  They commenced the hot stove period with question marks and issues worth considering at first base, second base, left field and starting pitching.

The team convenes in Sarasota with none of those problems either completely addressed or improved upon, truth be told.  Rather than go out and get a real first baseman, they simply promoted a formerly-failed glove with a decent bat in Chris Davis.  Not knowing whether or not Brian Roberts will ever return to form, the club elected to add a half-player in Alexi Casilla rather than create a sea change by sending Roberts on his way and giving the job to an everyday major-leaguer.  Left field was rescued in large part by Nate McLouth in 2012, but anyone willing to bet that he will duplicate his form of a year ago is just hoping for the sake of hope.  Oh, right, the team still believes Nolan Reimold can stay healthy and be a threat at the plate and share the left field position with McLouth.  The team likely believes in the Tooth Fairy, too.

In fairness, if the Orioles can get the same yield from guys like Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, the 2013 starting rotation might not be all that bad.  Would it have been good to see the Orioles make a play for Zack Greinke or Dan Haren or, like Toronto, make a trade to bring in the likes of Josh Johnson and/or Mark Buerhle?  Sure.  But those players all cost money.

While the Birds clearly didn’t do anything in the off-season to improve their team, it’s accurate to note that the Blue Jays wound up being the only A.L. East club to appear as if winning was going to be important to them in ’13.  Boston’s going to stink again, the Yankees appear to be hard-pressed to be an 85-win team and Tampa Bay traded away some of their good young arms to Kansas City for high-level prospect types.  Sadly, had the Orioles actually added a handful of quality players over the last four months, they might legitimately be the favorite in the division.

My guess on 2013?  Pretty simple.  As The Killers showed with their first album, it’s awfully hard to catch lightning in a bottle two times in a row.  I’m going to assume the luck that guided the Orioles through 2012 ran its course a year ago and that same good fortunate bestowed upon the Birds by the baseball gods will instead go to the Royals or Mariners or Brewers or (insert team here) in the upcoming season.

2012 was a fluke season for the Orioles.

I said before the first game a year ago they’d go 79-83 and everyone in town thought I was nuts.  Obviously, I had no idea how lucky things would turn out for them.

I think they’re an 85-win team in ’13, but that won’t be nearly enough to get them into post-season play.  After 14 years of horrible baseball, I suppose we should be happy with back-to-back seasons of plus .500 play, but the Birds turned 95 wins into 85 wins in the off-season by dumpster diving for guys that no other team in the big leagues cared to take.  That philosophy worked a year ago but I can’t see lightning striking twice in the same place twelve months apart.

I’m hoping for the best, because I enjoyed the hell out of 2012, but you can’t count on luck to take you places.  At some point, you have to try to win.  And you do that by adding quality, not gambling on also-rans who swallowed the pill-of-good-fortune and put together a few good months of baseball.

I’d love to be wrong about this group.

I hope like hell they get as lucky this year as they did last season.

But I’m not counting on it.

 

Comments (13)

McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

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

McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

Posted on 18 October 2012 by Ryan Chell

Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth would have never imagined having people telling him “Thank You” at the end of the 2012 season after manager Buck Showalter and GM Dan Duquette gave the 30-year old cast-off another opportunity at the big leagues.

But it turns out, McLouth happened to be one of the reasons why the Baltimore Orioles were able to end their stretch of 15 consecutive losing seasons and a lack of baseball being played in October, and he saw that appreciation come his way in masses.

McLouth, who was signed by the Orioles to a minor league deal on June 5th and eventually found his way to the big league club on August 3rd, jumped right in to the Baltimore lineup and played at a high level and provided a spark for manager Buck Showalter in the stretch run of the regular season.

In 55 games in the regular season, McLouth hit .268 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He had a .342 OBP and his slugging percentage reached .435.

Those were numbers that McLouth had not really seen consistently since 2008 when he made the All-Star team as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That presence was even more important after right fielder and leadoff man Nick Markakis broke his wrist in early September from a CC Sabathia pitch, and McLouth-who had already been written off by his two previous teams in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, was called upon by Showalter to stabilize the offense.

McLouth not only proved the doubters wrong, but was the Orioles hottest bat in their ALDS set with the New York Yankees and admitted to Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Monday the weekend after their playoff run ended-that he had a lot of fun along the way.

“That’s what you play for,” McLouth said. ”It was as fun of time as you can have playing baseball.   I know a lot of people-probably everybody-didn’t expect this team to be where we were coming down there in September.  That may have made it even more fun.  But once we got there, we expected to be there.  It was exciting; it was a lot of fun.”

McLouth had two RBIs in the Orioles 5-1 Wild Card win over the Texas Rangers, and in the ALDS against the New York Yankees, he went hit .318 with one home run and 3 RBIs from the leadoff spot.

It was just a continued sense of added confidence for McLouth to be playing at that high of a level again on that big of a stage.

“I knew that I still had some good baseball left in me, and I still do.  It was so nice to have that opportunity, and to be able to take advantage of it.”

McLouth said that the whole process was made much easier when his manager, Buck Showalter, trusted in his skills as gave him the green light to go out and make plays on his own.

“Buck let me do my thing on the bases, in the outfield, at the plate, it was great. After struggling for a couple years it was really, really difficult, but it was like a breath of fresh air.  I couldn’t have had a better time.”

Unfortunately, McLouth-who had playoff experience with the Braves in 2010 NLDS-had no control over the rest of his teammates’ bats going cold against the Yankees, and the season sadly came to an end.

But as McLouth can attest to-the game of baseball can be a roller coaster ride sometimes.

“In that series at Camden Yards in September, we swung the bats pretty well, facing a lot of the same pitchers,” McLouth said. “Unfortunately, that’s how baseball works sometimes. That also goes to show you how hard baseball is…they got a couple more hits than we did.”

McLouth said losing last Friday night stinks and that bad taste in his mouth still lingers, but ultimately he knows both he and his teammates will be able to look at it from a much broader perspective.

“I don’t think it has still hasn’t hit yet, but I think it will. I don’t care if you’re expected to be there or not, it stinks losing,” McLouth told Clark. “I’m sure once the sting wears off a little bit here, we will be able to be happy about what we accomplished this year.”

And ultimately, McLouth said he’s going to use days like Friday and Saturday to better motivate himself toward doing more in 2013 next season for the Baltimore Orioles should he be given that opportunity.

It’s something he hasn’t felt in quite some time.

“Usually the last day of the season, if you’re not going to the playoffs, it’s one of the best days of the year,” McLouth admitted. You know you have some time off coming ahead of you- some time to rest.”

“But after losing on Friday, it was an awful feeling, it was empty, and it was terrible. I think all of us wanted to keep going, and that’s going to drive me personally in the offseason going into next season.”

But that’s a situation that is again out of McLouth’s control.

The 30-year old McLouth had signed a one year, 1.75 million dollar contract to play this season for the Orioles, and with the healthy returns of outfielders Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis, you have to wonder if there is a spot and at-bats for McLouth on this roster.

McLouth said he will focus on coming back strong in 2013, and hopes that it’s back in Orange and Black because Charm City really grew on him.

“I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Baltimore- everything about it,” McLouth said with a little emotion. “The people in that organization are awesome, I love my teammates. I like living in there in Baltimore-living down in the Harbor area. I really enjoyed playing here and I would enjoy to be back.”

McLouth said that seeing Oriole Park in Camden Yards filled to the brink in August, September, and October was one of the most exciting things he’s experienced in his lifetime, and he said the fans deserved what they did more than ever.

“I played in Baltimore I think twice as a visiting player, once with Pittsburgh, once with Atlanta, I think in ’08 and ’09. It was obviously a beautiful stadium but didn’t have much of excitement, which is normal for a team that hasn’t won in a long time. To see the way that stadium coming down the stretch in September, but especially those two playoff games was incredible.”

“As the playoffs were more of a real possibility and a likely possibility, you could feel that building every series and even every game really. I am so happy the fans got to experience that, to get a taste of that.”

And as much as McLouth has said thank you to Peter Angelos, Dan Duquette, and Buck Showalter over the last several months for giving him another shot at being a big league ball player, the last several weeks he has received as many words of appreciation from the thousands of Orioles fans who paid to see him rebound.

“When we got back on Friday night after we lost, I think there was 500-600 fans in that parking lot waiting for us. I think the most common thing I heard, even walking around Baltimore, was ‘Thank You,’ thank you for bringing baseball back to Baltimore and giving us some excitement.”

“Those first two playoff games, it was like they let out 15 years of frustration. You could just feel it, it was insane; it was the atmosphere and those are two games I’ll never forget.”

WNST thanks Nate McLouth for joining us! To hear the entire interview, check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

Comments (0)

I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

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

I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

There is no 15-7-0 this week. I’m a man with priorities.

My priorities Sunday were quite simple. I wanted to get through pre-game and post-game shows, enjoy a Ravens win and get to Oriole Park at Camden Yards as quickly as possible to watch a playoff game with my family.

At the end of the night, those priorities were realities even if the day didn’t play out exactly the way we had hoped it would.

Sunday night was everything baseball in Baltimore should be. It was an incredible gathering of friends and family for a vitally important civic event in a town where family names have baseball connections. We’re familiar with these types of nights in Baltimore, we just know them as “football games”. We’ve waited not so patiently for another one on the baseball diamond for a decade and a half.

It finally came Sunday night and it was absolutely as intense and electric and meaningful as any lifelong (or even Johnny-come-lately) Baltimore Orioles fan could have imagined it would be.

You know what’s amazing? I stood in the outfield for two hours during a rain delay and never heard a single complaint. Not about the lines for beer, not about the weather itself, not about the massive crowds making it difficult to maneuver or find space to stand comfortably.

Hell, we had waited 15 years. What’s another couple of hours?

After the New York Yankees were introduced to a less than partial crowd, there was a break before introducing the home team to their fans. The break might have been mere seconds, but it felt like time stood still. I remember the first time being alone with a girl at 16 years old, but I don’t remember my anticipation ever being as great as it was in those moments. The opportunity to show appreciation for ending one of the most miserable runs a fan base has experienced was a moment not soon to be forgotten.

That moment was followed up by a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Perry Hall High School shooting victim Daniel Borowy and guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, the man who stepped in and defined heroism in fending off the shooter that August morning. As a PHHS grad who has remained very close to the school in recent years (and who both went to school with and grew up down the street from Jesse to boot), I will admit that I lost it a bit during the moment. Even those without Gators ties could certainly revel in the significance of the occasion. THIS is truly a representation of what Orioles baseball should be. The most important things happening in our community should be tied to, recognized by and celebrated with the franchise that has remained in our city since 1954.

This was a moment that far transcended sports.

As Game 1 of the ALDS went along, it felt like every pitch was the most important ever thrown in the history of the sport. Each tantalizing inch around the plate was crucial, with fans hanging on every centimeter afforded to CC Sabathia but taken away from Jason Hammel. When the Birds were able to break through and plate two runs off the bat of Nate McLouth in the 3rd inning the staff at OPACY could have set off actual fireworks and they might have gone unnoticed by a crowd that could only be described as bat-sh*t bonkers.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (1)

Orioles embrace underdog role like few teams ever have

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

Orioles embrace underdog role like few teams ever have

Posted on 06 October 2012 by Luke Jones

You’d think we would have learned our lesson after 162 games, but the Orioles opened our eyes once again on Friday night.

With few giving them a chance after a deflating series at Tampa Bay that forced them to go to Arlington for the first ever wild card play-in game, the Orioles knocked off the Texas Rangers to advance to the American League Division Series.

We assumed the task was too much for the Orioles to top the two-time defending American League champions after they went 2-5 against the Rangers and were outscored 56-24 in the season series. It didn’t matter that Texas had lost nine of its last 13 games or that Baltimore held the best road record in the American League. The epitaphs had already been written and recited by many over the last two days leading up to Friday’s first pitch.

Manager Buck Showalter’s decision to give the ball to left-hander Joe Saunders was met with more than a few raised eyebrows considering the soft-tossing veteran was 0-6 with a 9.38 earned run average in six career starts at Rangers Ballpark before Friday night. Even those defending the decision assumed a brief outing for Saunders before a 10-man bullpen would match up the rest of the way.

The middle-of-the-road starter couldn’t possibly contain the powerful Rangers bats, could he?

Saunders did just that, using effective off-speed stuff to pitch 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball before turning it over to the bullpen, the group most responsible for landing the Orioles in the postseason for the first time since 1997.

Arguably the player of the game, reliever Darren O’Day was brilliant over two innings of work to bridge the gap to the late innings. New lefty specialist Brian Matusz blew away Josh Hamilton on three pitches to end the eighth with the slugger representing the tying run. And, finally, Jim Johnson closed the door on the Rangers’ season and sent the Orioles back to Baltimore for the ALDS.

The Baltimore bats were far from fertile but did just enough against Texas starter Yu Darvish to give Saunders and the bullpen a slim lead.

Left fielder Nate McLouth drove in two runs and scored another to lead the offensive attack, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones each knocked in one, and rookie Manny Machado tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth with a run-scoring single.

And as McLouth squeezed the final out in left to seal a 5-1 win, there was Showalter watching from the dugout as his players celebrated their unlikeliest feat to date in a season full of head-shaking wonder. At this point, you wonder just how unlikely the Orioles viewed it as they didn’t blink in a place that’s been a house of horror for them in recent years.

Why do we still doubt them?

The response was lukewarm in late August when executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette brought Saunders to Baltimore in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom. It wasn’t the impact move for a starting pitcher the Orioles desperately needed to push the Orioles over the hump in their playoff push.

Considered washed up and simply hoping for another chance in the big leagues while playing for Triple-A Norfolk only two months ago, McLouth was summoned to Baltimore as many laughed and rolled their eyes. Those same people then cringed when the thumb injury to Nick Markakis forced him to assume the leadoff spot duties.

Critics said 20-year-old Manny Machado wasn’t ready for the big leagues and certainly couldn’t handle playing third base after playing only two games at the position in his brief minor league career.

O’Day was a castoff from the Rangers who many thought didn’t even deserve a roster spot at the start of the season after being injured for much of spring training. Matusz endured one of the worst seasons in major league history a year ago and was demoted again earlier this season before ultimately being sent to the bullpen.

Yet, the moves worked and those individuals figured heavily into the Orioles’ first postseason win since 1997.

While I wondered if the Rangers could get off the mat after collapsing in the final two weeks of the regular season and losing their grasp on the AL West title, the Orioles emphatically delivered the knockout blow to their 2012 season. Perhaps the Rangers were the better team and would have prevailed in a longer season, but the Orioles were the better team on Friday and that’s all that matters.

Yes, this perfect group of imperfect players comprised of holdovers used to losing, career minor leaguers, has-beens, never-will-bes, and baby-faced rookies may look like a jumbled mess of individual parts, but the unconventional concoction made by Showalter and Duquette is now 11 wins away from a World Series title.

Suggesting that possibility still sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? I thought so.

They’ll undoubtedly be tabbed as the underdogs against the AL East champion Yankees, a team they tied 9-9 in the season series.

But that underdog label doesn’t bother the Orioles. They’ve heard it all year and they’ll just keep playing with their house money, proving more and more people wrong in the process.

We’ll keep waiting for that bankroll to expire while Showalter’s club continues one of the most remarkable baseball stories we’ve seen in a long time for at least another postseason series.

We don’t know when it will come to an end, but few teams have ever embraced the underdog role with such vigor.

And they’ll keep reminding you why you shouldn’t doubt them.

Comments (2)

Harbaugh grateful for support of Showalter, Orioles at Thursday’s game

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Harbaugh grateful for support of Showalter, Orioles at Thursday’s game

Posted on 28 September 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Enjoying their final day off before the last six games of the regular season, manager Buck Showalter and some of the Orioles took the opportunity to attend the Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.

What the Orioles skipper didn’t expect was the thunderous ovation he and several of his players would receive when they appeared on the M&T Bank Stadium video screen in the second half. Nearly 71,000 fans exploded into a “Let’s go O’s!” chant and provided a standing ovation as the Orioles in attendance watched the game from Cal Ripken’s suite.

“That was fun. I know the players were buzzing about it,” said Showalter, who was sitting elsewhere before deciding to stop by the suite to say hello to Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and a few others before leaving for the night. “I think it even surprises them sometimes, the reaction that our city and our fans have to what they’re doing this year. I think it’s good, and I’m trying to stay in the background.”

While obviously focused on the task at hand of beating the Browns for the ninth straight time since becoming the coach in Baltimore, John Harbaugh shared his appreciation for the support shown by Showalter and Orioles players and offered his thoughts on what’s happening with Baltimore’s other professional sports team this year.

“I think the world of that team,” Harbaugh said. “I love Buck. I think he does a great job. They play fundamentally-sound baseball. This is a special team.”

An avid college football fan, Showalter was trying to leave the suite as his players and stadium personnel urged him to stay, obviously with the plan of showing the manager and his players on the video board. As fans erupted into loud cheers, Showalter wanted the energy to assist the Ravens in protecting their closer-than-expected lead over the winless Browns.

“They were trying to time it,” Showalter said. “I guess they needed a big defensive stand there or something. They thought it’d be a good reaction to the players on the board. I was hoping and praying it was going to be three-and-out afterwards. Otherwise, we’d never be [invited] back, but I think it was. And that’s when I left. I’m leaving in a hurry [after that].’”

Harbaugh offered high praise of the Orioles’ historic success in one-run games and extra-inning contests this season as they’ve already secured their first winning season in 15 years and are on the verge of earning their first postseason berth since 1997 as well.

The Orioles entered Friday with a 27-9 record in one-run games this season, which is on pace to tie the highest winning percentage in major league history in games decided by one run. They’ve won a franchise-record 16 straight games that have gone to extra innings, the longest streak in the majors since the 1949 Indians won 17 in a row.

Growing up in Ohio, Harbaugh recalled listening to Indians games on the radio with his father Jack, who is the bigger baseball fan. The Baltimore coach sees similarities between the Orioles and his own team in 2012.

“How many close games have they won this year? I think they set a record,” Harbaugh said. “One-run games, extra-inning games, finding a way to win. It’s something that we can look at as a team, too, and say, ‘That’s what we did a little bit last night.’ You find a way to win games.”

Unlike any other time in the 17-year period in which the franchises have co-existed in Baltimore, this is the first season in which Baltimore fans have had a reason to be excited about both teams in September and, if they’re lucky, well into the month of October.

Harbaugh made it clear the Ravens are behind the Orioles, inviting Showalter out to watch practice whenever he wants but also acknowledging the Orioles manager and his players are a little preoccupied these days. He even admitted to taking a peak when the result of the Yankees game was shown on the video board during Thursday’s game.

“The Ravens are big fans of the Orioles,” Harbaugh said. “We’re cheering them on in this pennant race. The Yankee score came up last night; I did happen to see that, I have to admit.”

Comments (1)