Tag Archive | "oakland"

Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: What if the Red Sox had wanted Davis?

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: What if the Red Sox had wanted Davis?

Posted on 01 August 2014 by Glenn Clark

Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to you by Koons Baltimore Ford. It took me five days to feel comfortable saying that. I’ll just go ahead and retire it now.

I’ll keep this one short today (or I hope I will anyway). I’m sure plenty of Friday’s D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction will include conversation about Ray Rice’s press conference Thursday-but I’ve written plenty about him this week.

Thursday’s Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline passed and the Baltimore Orioles were active. While the addition of reliever Andrew Miller seems minimal in comparison to the names that had been thrown around in connection to the O’s and the names that ultimately ended up being dealt elsewhere-Miller is a very solid part to add to the team’s bullpen.

Of course, the Detroit Tigers picked up David Price. And the St. Louis Cardinals nabbed John Lackey. Those teams probably did a bit more than the Birds to set themselves up for a run to a World Series. If the Orioles can continue to throw 12 shutout innings per game (like they did to start Thursday night’s game), they’ll probably be in good shape to win the American League themselves. They’ll also have to re-name every record book after the Orioles’ staff, which I imagine would be an arduous process.

The biggest story of Thursday’s trade deadline was the one that came down in the waning moments of Thursday morning’s show. Of course you already know the Boston Red Sox sent the one pitcher I had said I’d be willing to be overly bold in my pursuit of (Jon Lester) to the A’s along with Jonny Gomes in exchange for slugger Yoenis Cespedes.

It was a real “holy crap” moment in my life of following baseball. It was in that Ruben Sierra for Jose Canseco territory of truly stunning deals. It was bold, it is most certainly questionable and it solidifies what we already knew-that the Athletics are absolutely the team to beat when we get to October.

I had only a couple of seconds at the end of Thursday’s show to ponder what could have happened for Lester to have ended up in orange and black instead of green and yellow.

I posed a question on Twitter-if the Sox had told the O’s that instead of a package centered around Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy or Hunter Harvey (we’ll always wonder how the deadline could have been different without the injury) they wanted a package built around first baseman Chris Davis-would you have been willing to do it?

Much like Cespedes-Davis is a free agent at the end of next season and has provided quite the mixed bag at the plate this season. While he appeared to be establishing himself as one of the dominant power hitters in baseball in 2013, he’s struggled in just about every aspect of his game in 2014. He’s battled injuries, his batting average is atrocious and he hasn’t even gotten to the 20 home run mark for the season yet.

That said, where Cespedes has been better as an average hitter in 2014-Davis has actually maintained a better on-base percentage. Cespedes certainly provides a plus outfield arm, but Davis has been a solid defensive player.

I said on Thursday’s show I believed the O’s had established themselves as the second best team in the AL behind the A’s. For me, that changed when the Tigers added Price. The Orioles are a very good baseball team that has an opportunity to win a division and get to the postseason-but I can’t fathom how they could beat those other teams in a playoff series.

I would have felt differently had they added Jon Lester, even if it had cost them Chris Davis. I don’t know what the equivalent would have been for Jonny Gomes to add on to the deal, but I’d imagine they’d have to find a way to use Steve Pearce and Delmon Young regularly to try to make up for Davis’ production.

So would you have done it? Would you have parted ways with Chris Davis in order to add Jon Lester for two months? I would have and would have felt good about my chances of pursuing a World Series title.

We’ll talk about it Friday morning.

-G

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Former Orioles closer Johnson DFA’d by Athletics

Posted on 24 July 2014 by WNST Staff

A’s Recall Scribner from Sacramento; Designate Johnson for Assignment

OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland A’s recalled right-handed pitcher Evan Scribner from Triple-A Sacramento and designated right-handed pitcher Jim Johnson for assignment, the club announced today.

Scribner was on the A’s Opening Day roster and tossed 1.1 scoreless innings in two appearances before he was optioned to Sacramento April 7. He returned for a second stint June 17 but did not appear in a game before he was sent back to the River Cats June 20. The 29-year-old right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA and .243 opponents batting average in 31 games with Sacramento and ranks fourth in the Pacific Coast League with 14 saves. Scribner has 57 strikeouts in 37.2 innings, an average of 13.62 strikeouts per nine innings, and has walked just seven for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8.14.

Johnson was 4-2 with two saves, one blown save, a 6.92 ERA and .353 opponents batting average in 38 relief appearances with the A’s. The ERA is the highest among Major League relievers as is his .434 opponents on-base percentage. His opponents batting average is the highest in the American League. Johnson has allowed 12 runs on 13 hits in 4.1 innings over his last five games.

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

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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.

 

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Orioles place Gonzalez on DL, summon Gausman to start on Saturday

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Orioles place Gonzalez on DL, summon Gausman to start on Saturday

Posted on 06 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After making it through the first two months of the season with their Opening Day rotation making all but one start, the Orioles placed starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique on Friday.

Right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman has been summoned to make the start against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday but will not be activated for the series opener. The Orioles also optioned right-handed relief pitcher Preston Guilmet to Triple-A Norfolk, recalled left-handed pitcher Tim Berry from Double-A Bowie, and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Evan Meek from Triple-A Norfolk.

To make room for Meek on the 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred Rule 5 infielder Michael Almanzar (knee) to the 60-day disabled list.

Manager Buck Showalter expressed optimism that Gonzalez’s time on the disabled list will be minimal as he could begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Bowie or Single-A Frederick as early as the middle of next week, putting him in line to return as early as his first day of eligibility on June 15. Gonzalez expressed optimism on Friday afternoon that he would still be able to make Saturday’s start, but Showalter did not want to risk him going to the hill and experiencing an issue with the oblique strain, leaving the Orioles in a dangerous position with their bullpen.

“No one wants to be on the DL, but you’ve got to think about it in the long run,” Gonzalez said prior to the news becoming official. “You don’t want to go out there and hurt yourself and be out for 2 1/2 months and miss all that time. You don’t want to do that.”

Gonzalez’s stint on the DL is retroactive to May 31 as he started against the Houston Astros last Friday. The 30-year-old right-hander is 3-4 with a 4.17 earned run average in 58 1/3 innings this season and had registered four straight quality starts prior to waking up with pain in his right side earlier this week.

Gausman will be making his second start of the season for the Orioles after being tagged for five earned runs in four innings in a spot start against the Detroit Tigers on May 14. Showalter expressed hope that the 2012 first-round pick would make it difficult on the Orioles to decide on his fate once Gonzalez is ready to be activated later this month.

In 10 starts for Norfolk this season, Gausman is 1-3 with a 2.98 ERA and has struck out 44 batters and walked 18 in 42 1/3 innings.

Berry and Meek were summoned to provide extra help in the bullpen after starter Chris Tillman was knocked out in the second inning of Thursday’s 8-6 loss to the Texans Rangers. The Orioles would then option Berry back to Bowie to make room for Gausman to start on Saturday if all goes to plan.

A 50th-round pick in the 2009 draft, the 23-year-old Berry landed firmly on the Orioles’ prospect radar after a 3.85 ERA at Single-A Frederick last year and was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason. He is 3-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 11 starts for Bowie this season.

In other injury-related news, right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter (groin) will make a rehab appearance for Single-A Delmarva on Saturday and could be activated from the disabled list as early as Sunday.

During his outing in Sarasota on Friday, veteran left-handed pitcher Johan Santana was struck by a line drive and felt something in his Achilles tendon while trying to field the ball, causing him to leave the game. The 35-year-old was still being examined when Showalter met with local reporters on Friday afternoon.

Santana was expected to be assigned to a minor-league affiliate for his next outing as he is moving closer to an expected debut in Baltimore later this month, so it remains to be seen if those plans will now need to be altered.

 

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

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Deserving or not, Ravens remain firmly in AFC playoff hunt

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

They don’t deserve to be in the postseason and certainly don’t look like a playoff team.

The eyeball test warrants a failing grade.

Too little consistency and too many bad losses will cost them at the end of the season.

They’re simply not good enough.

The following statements have been used over and over in describing the Ravens as they’ve lost four of their last five games to fall to 4-6 on the season and 2 1/2 games behind division-leading Cincinnati in the AFC North.

And those same descriptions can and have been used to describe the seven other teams currently jockeying for the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff picture. In fact, “plodding” might be a better term to use in describing the race for the No. 6 seed in the conference.

Unless commissioner Roger Goodell elects to eliminate the final spot, a team with an underwhelming résumé through Week 11 will find itself playing in January as the final seed in the single-elimination tournament. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins hold the slight edge at the moment over the rest of the pack at 5-5, but their flaws are as apparent as any of the six 4-6 teams chasing them.

“What it goes to show you is how close it is, and what a razor-thin margin it is in the National Football League,” coach John Harbaugh said in describing the current playoff picture. “That’s what makes the National Football League great. We would all rather be sitting here talking about being atop the division and chasing a home-field advantage or something like that. And that’s something that we were shooting for. We wanted to be in that position. We haven’t done the things we needed to do to be in that position.”

The frustration is understandable after a 4-6 start, but deeming the Ravens undeserving of the playoffs and writing them off are subjective statements that would be true in most seasons but are made in isolation from the rest of the field through Week 11. While I’m unwilling to say they’re definitively better than any of the other seven teams fighting for the final spot, you won’t convince me that any of those competitors are superior to the Ravens, either.

The truth is the AFC is mired in mediocrity once you look beyond Denver, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Kansas City, making it difficult to predict which team — if any — will make a strong run over the final six weeks to sneak in. At this point, 10-6 would virtually guarantee the final playoff spot, but 9-7 has a good shot of being the season-ending target.

As mediocre as the entire field of 5-5 and 4-6 teams has looked, even an 8-8 record — or, gasp, 7-9? — with a favorable tie-breaker arsenal could conceivably be awarded with the No. 6 seed. Whether you elect to embrace that possibility with any level of enthusiasm is your choice.

With a head-to-head tie-breaking win over Miami and a meeting with the Jets this Sunday, the Ravens have an opportunity to gain the upper hand against the two teams they’re currently chasing in the wild-card race. That doesn’t mean they have the advantage over the rest of the field, but their chances appear no worse than any other team — even if you must hold your nose while saying that.

“We are right there. We can do it, and we’re good enough to do it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got every tool we need; all we have to do is go get it done. But that’s on us. We believe we have what it takes, but it’s up to us to prove it, and we’ve got to go prove it by winning these games.”

Whether the Ravens can do it remains to be seen, but three straight games at home starting Sunday provides a crucial opportunity to stack wins and ease the pain from their current 1-5 record on the road.

Here’s a look at the rest of the race for the AFC’s No. 6 seed in the current order in which teams stand based on tie-breaking procedures, which I’ll forgo including beyond conference records for now:

6. NEW YORK (5-5)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Baltimore, Miami, Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Case for: Only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, league’s top-ranked run defense
Case against: Struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith, minus-85 point differential (worst among the eight contenders for No. 6 seed)

7. MIAMI (5-5)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Carolina, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Case for: One of the NFL’s better pass rushes, potential of young quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Case against: 31st in total offense, fallout from the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga

8. OAKLAND (4-6)
Conference record: 4-3
Remaining schedule: Tennessee, at Dallas, at New York Jets, Kansas City, at San Diego, Denver
Case for: Fourth-ranked run offense, sixth-ranked run defense
Case against: Unrest at quarterback position, 25th-ranked pass defense

9. TENNESSEE (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Oakland, at Indianapolis, at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Case for: Seventh-ranked pass defense, fifth in conference in takeaways
Case against: Season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker, four remaining road games

10. PITTSBURGH (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: at Cleveland, at Baltimore, Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Case for: One game remaining against teams currently above .500, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Case against: 30th-ranked rush offense, 26th in run defense

11. BALTIMORE (4-6)
Conference record: 4-4
Remaining schedule: New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati
Case for: Expected return of Dennis Pitta, four remaining home games
Case against: 31st in yards per carry and 30th in total offense, three games remaining against teams currently above .500

12. CLEVELAND (4-6)
Conference record: 3-4
Remaining schedule: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, at New England, Chicago, at New York Jets, at Pittsburgh
Case for: Fifth in total defense, play-making ability of wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron
Case against: 26th-ranked rush offense, 10th in AFC in takeaways

13. SAN DIEGO (4-6)
Conference record: 2-5
Remaining schedule: at Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Case for: Fourth-ranked passing offense, plus-4 point differential (best among the eight No.6 seed contenders)
Case against: 27th in pass defense, four games remaining against teams currently above .500

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Orioles recall LHP Britton from Triple-A Norfolk for West Coast trip

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Orioles recall LHP Britton from Triple-A Norfolk for West Coast trip

Posted on 25 April 2013 by Luke Jones

With an open spot on the 25-man roster and needing an additional bullpen arm for the next game or two in Oakland, the Orioles have recalled left-handed pitcher Zach Britton from Triple-A Norfolk.

Britton replaces right-handed pitcher Josh Stinson, who was optioned to the Tides on Wednesday following the Orioles’ 6-5 loss to Toronto. Stinson allowed four home runs and will be replaced by Britton in the starting rotation.

The Orioles will not use Britton’s spot in the rotation until they travel to Seattle on Monday, meaning he will be available to pitch out of the bullpen over the next couple days with the club using their relievers extensively over the last week. Britton was scheduled to pitch for the Tides on Thursday night, so manager Buck Showalter will likely prefer to give the left-hander at least an inning or two of work in one of the next two games.

The 25-year-old southpaw was 1-0 with 1.98 earned run average in three starts for the Tides this season but had been dealing with a blister on his finger at the start of the season. Unlike Stinson, you would expect the Orioles to give Britton at least a few starts to assess whether he can handle a starting spot moving forward.

Since making his major league debut in 2011, Britton is 6-14 with a 4.74 ERA in 214.2/3 innings covering 40 games, 39 of them being starts. He was in contention for the final spot in the Orioles’ starting rotation this spring, but his final start of the spring when he allowed five earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings against Toronto.

Right-hander Jake Arrieta won the fifth starter job out of spring training but was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after posting a 6.63 ERA with 16 walks in 19 innings over four starts.

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Rolando McClain arrested again in Alabama

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Rolando McClain arrested again in Alabama

Posted on 22 April 2013 by WNST Staff

As first reported by WHNT in Huntsville, Baltimore Ravens LB Rolando McClain was arrested again Sunday night in his hometown of Decatur, Ala.

McClain was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, both misdemeanor charges.

According to the WHNT report, McClain was arrested at Pines Park. Police forced a large crowd gathered in the park to leave when the troubled former Crimson Tide LB refused to and began cursing at the police.

McClain’s arrest is the latest in a disturbing track record over recent years. He was arrested in 2011 and charged with reckless endangerment, menacing, third-degree assault and firing a gun in city limits. A conviction was overturned in circuit court when the victim declined to testify. He was arrested again in 2013 for a window tint violation and gave arresting officers a false name.

McClain was suspended two games for conduct detrimental to the Oakland Raiders in 2012, the suspension was reportedly separate from the off-field issues. He said he was “mentally done” as a Raider via a Facebook post during the course of last season, adding “looking forward to playing for an actual ‘team.’”

The Ravens signed McClain two weeks ago, giving him a deal worth as much as $1.1 million. General Manager Ozzie Newsome told reporters “Rolando is just (being) given an opportunity to make our 53-man roster, that’s it” last week. He added ”I think the guys in the locker room will be able to provide him with the proper guidance as to the way John (Harbaugh) wants his football players to be.”

McClain purchased a home in Madison, Ala. earlier this offseason and vowed to clean up his act off the field prior to signing a one-year deal with the Ravens.

That included an admission that he needed to distance himself from his hometown in order to get his career back on track.

“I love my friends and my city and I won’t turn my back on them,” McClain told the Madison Weekly News in March. “I just need to make better decisions in my life. I won’t be making as many visits to Decatur.”

As of late Sunday night, the Ravens had not offered public comment about the arrest.

WNST will continue to monitor and update this story throughout the day Monday via AM1570, WNST.net and @WNST on Twitter.

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McClain passes physical to make acquisition official

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McClain passes physical to make acquisition official

Posted on 12 April 2013 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Ravens have officially signed LB Rolando McClain to a one-year deal, general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced.

McClain, who passed a physical Friday, has spent his entire three-year NFL career with the Oakland Raiders after being selected in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2010 Draft.

Seeing action in 41 career games (38 starts), the 6-4, 259-pounder has posted 274 tackles (195 solo), 6.5 sacks (-42.5 yards), one interception, one forced fumble and 23 passes defensed.

During the 2012 campaign, McClain, 23, appeared in 11 contests (nine starts), finishing with 90 tackles (59 solo), one sack, one forced fumble and three passes defensed.

Drafted out of the University of Alabama, in 2009 McClain was honored with both the Butkus Award and Jack Lambert Award as the nation’s top collegiate linebacker. That season, he helped the Crimson Tide, along with fellow Ravens NT Terrence Cody and OLB Courtney Upshaw, produce an undefeated season en route to the BCS National Championship.

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Ravens agree to one-year deal with troubled linebacker Rolando McClain

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Ravens agree to one-year deal with troubled linebacker Rolando McClain

Posted on 10 April 2013 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 6:45 p.m.)

The Ravens have agreed in principle on a one-year deal with troubled former Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain.

McClain will reportedly meet with team officials to discuss the Ravens’ expectations and to finalize the deal on Friday. The deal is worth $700,000 with other performance incentives built into the agreement, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The eighth overall pick of the 2010 draft is an Alabama product, linking him to general manager Ozzie Newsome and reuniting him with former defensive teammates Terrence Cody and Courtney Upshaw.

McClain’s pro career has been riddled with off-field issues, leading to his release late last week after much speculation that he would be jettisoned by Oakland. He was due $4.05 million this season and more than $5 million in 2014 and cleared waivers to become a free agent just a few days ago. The Raiders elected to carry roughly $11 million in dead money on their cap this season to be rid of McClain.

Several teams had reportedly shown interest in the linebacker since he became available. News first surfaced of his potential signing in the Madison (Ala.) Weekly News, who spoke to the newspaper on Tuesday. McClain told the publication he would sign a one-year deal with Baltimore.

“It’s a move that can’t go wrong and I’m looking forward to playing in Baltimore as the Ravens run the same or very similar defense as I was a part of at the University of Alabama,” McClain told the publication.

In addition to underwhelming play on the field after being named the 2009 Butkus Award winner, McClain has been a major distraction off it as he faced misdemeanor charges of third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, and illegal discharge of a firearm in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. in 2011. The charges were eventually dropped after an original conviction was appealed.

Most recently, the 23-year-old was arrested in January after failing to sign a citation related to illegal window tint on his vehicle.

The Raiders suspended McClain for conduct detrimental to the team after a clash with new head coach Dennis Allen last season. McClain responded by making critical comments on his Facebook page that suggested he was finished with the organization.

McClain is regarded by many as a two-down linebacker who doesn’t excel in pass coverage, which would not address the Ravens’ need of finding another linebacker with the ability to cover running backs and tight ends.

The Ravens’ interest in McClain became intriguing after they recently signed veteran safety Michael Huff, who played with the linebacker in Oakland and would figure to have a good read on his character to offer feedback to the organization. However, Baltimore finds itself with a transitioning locker room from a leadership standpoint following the departures of standout leaders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

In 11 games last season, he collected 62 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

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New safety Huff willingly taking torch in replacing Ravens legend

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New safety Huff willingly taking torch in replacing Ravens legend

Posted on 28 March 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Replacing a legend isn’t easy, but new Ravens safety Michael Huff is looking to carve out his own niche in the tradition of great Baltimore defense.

The 30-year-old met with the local media for the first time Thursday after passing his physical and officially signing a three-year, $6 million contract and didn’t shy away from recognizing the crater left behind by future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, who signed a three-year, $15 million deal to join the Houston Texans last week. In fact, Huff has kept in contact with Reed via text messages in a symbolic passing of the torch.

Huff knows he can’t truly replace the nine-time Pro Bowl safety, but the 2005 Jim Thorpe Award winner and seventh overall pick of the 2006 draft is eager to maintain the level of strong play found in the Ravens secondary for over a decade. And it may provide the opportunity for Huff to break free from the black cloud of the Raiders organization after never experience a winning season in seven campaigns in the AFC West.

“It means a lot,” Huff said. “He’s one of the greatest — if not the greatest — free safety to ever play the game. I talked to him last night. I told him I’d carry on his legacy and carry on the tradition of great safeties in Baltimore. I’m definitely going to go out there and hold up my end.”

He may not have fulfilled the great promised he once showed as a star for the Longhorns, but Huff is happy to be in Baltimore seven years after general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens showed interest in him leading up to the 2006 draft.

Huff is expected to start at free safety, but the University of Texas product views himself as a Swiss army knife in the secondary, evident last season when he made 14 starts at cornerback due to a high number of injuries in the Oakland secondary. It’s a valuable asset to have on game day when a team is limited to just 46 active players and is only an injury or two away from having a major predicament at any given position on the field.

“I’m going to go out there and play free safety, play strong safety, play corner if they need me to, to play nickel if they need me to,” Huff said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help the defense and help us win.”

Joining a group of safeties with only one other veteran — 29-year-old James Ihedigbo — Huff said Thursday that he won’t shy away from mentoring younger players such as Christian Thompson, Omar Brown, Emanuel Cook, and Anthony Levine. Linked by their respective collegiate careers at Texas, Huff and cornerback Chykie Brown train together during the offseason.

It follows a predictable offseason script as Huff joins defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears and linebacker Elvis Dumervil as free-agent additions who will also bring positive veteran presences to a Ravens locker room that lost several leaders following the Super Bowl XLVII win.

“He fits us really well, both football-wise and technique-wise, the type of person he is, the type of family man he is,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s going to enable us to keep doing the things on defense that we have been doing and even build on those things.”

Moving beyond the iconic status of Reed after 11 years of the ball-hawking safety roaming the secondary for the Ravens, Huff might prove to be an upgrade over Reed as the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year turns 35 at the beginning of the 2013 season. Reed’s tackling issues aren’t a secret after a nerve impingement has taken its toll on his neck and shoulder and the 2002 first-round pick admitted himself that his range had declined in recent years.

The cheaper price tag for a younger player also didn’t hurt in easing the pain of Reed’s decision to join the Texans.

“I think the thing that stands out is you look at a guy in the back end who has a lot of range,” secondary coach Teryl Austin said. “He is a good tackler coming out of the back end, and he’s durable. He has played a lot.”

Having missed only four games in his professional career, Huff adds a dependable piece to the back end of a defense that lost Reed and strong safety Bernard Pollard earlier this month.

Huff won’t be confused with having the big-play ability that Reed displayed in his time with the Ravens, but his steady and safe style might just be what the defense needs after the pass rush was boosted with the signing of the three-time Pro Bowl selection Dumervil. The new safety is far more interested in continuing a winning tradition — one he never experienced in the abyss of Oakland — than personal stats or another big contract.

“It’s defense and just winning,” Huff said. “At this point in my career, it’s not chasing money. It’s not chasing things like that. It’s chasing that Super Bowl ring. I don’t think there’s any better place than to come here. Baltimore is that place. If you want to come here and win a Super Bowl, then this is where you want to be.”

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