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Ortiz’s response to Palmer reeks of his entitlement

Posted on 21 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Who would have guessed it would be a 69-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher to provide the biggest spark to the Orioles-Red Sox rivalry in a few years?

If you’re a social media participant, you’re likely already aware of Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer using Twitter to criticize David Ortiz after the Boston designated hitter’s antics led to his ejection from Sunday’s game. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday afternoon that Ortiz had been suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for making contact with home plate umpire John Tumpane in the moments after he was thrown out, but the veteran hitter will appeal the decision.

Yes, you could argue Palmer shouldn’t have fanned the flames of the story by responding to and posting a number of replies from angry Red Sox fans who view “Big Papi” as an infallible figure, but the beauty of social media can be the interaction with a famous figure, right? In reading Palmer’s Twitter timeline, it was amusing to see some show off their baseball ignorance in saying they’d never heard of one of the greatest pitchers of the last 50 years.

To no one’s surprise, Palmer’s criticism didn’t sit well with Ortiz, who again showed off the same entitlement that led to him being tossed from Sunday’s game in the first place.

“That’s how he wants to get respect from us? Is that how he wants me to respect him?” Ortiz said to reporters in Boston on Monday. “It’s not going to happen.”

Of Ortiz’s 11 career ejections, the last three have come against the Orioles, which provides extra ammunition for Palmer’s hard truths. Perhaps the Red Sox slugger had forgotten about a certain dugout phone he destroyed a couple years ago?

What takes the cake, however, is Ortiz suggesting Palmer made the comments to garner more attention for himself. Never mind the fact that we’re talking about a Hall of Fame pitcher who’s never been afraid to share his opinion in his three decades as a broadcaster.

“Actually, I thought that he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of a sudden, now he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who wants to get famous or make some noise comes to Papi, right?”

Or, Palmer just sees a tired act, whether we’re talking about Ortiz’s intimidation of umpires or the general way in which he makes everyone wait on him in the midst of a game. There’s no disputing how great his career has been or how beloved Ortiz is in the city of Boston, but to suggest a Hall of Famer — a title Ortiz hopes to enjoy one day — is trying to become famous at his expense is as arrogant as it gets.

It’s just Ortiz’s world and we’re all living in it, I suppose.

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Orioles bullpen picks great time to right itself

Posted on 19 April 2015 by Luke Jones

If you’d been told going into the weekend that Orioles starters would pitch only 14 innings in the first three contests of a four-game set at Fenway Park, you’d probably think there’s a good chance they’d be waking up Monday morning trying to avoid a sweep.

Instead, Baltimore will have an opportunity to earn the series win against the Boston Red Sox, and they can thank a bounce-back performance from the bullpen for it. After being scored upon in each of the first 10 games of the 2015 season, Orioles relievers pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings to preserve wins on Saturday and Sunday.

The Orioles had to figure the bullpen would be busy this weekend with Red Sox hitters’ propensity for taking pitches, but that expectation grew scarier Friday night with the surprising ejection of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning. Kevin Gausman, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter didn’t quell those concerns when they combined to give up three earned runs in three innings of work in the 3-2 series-opening loss.

But the rest of the weekend was excellent for manager Buck Showalter as Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings to preserve a 4-1 win on Saturday and Hunter and Gausman turned in four scoreless frames to back up Miguel Gonzalez in Sunday’s 8-3 final. Staked to a five-run lead when Adam Jones hit a three-run double in the top of the sixth, Hunter and Gausman didn’t exactly enter in a pressure-filled situation, but the Red Sox have reminded you many times over the years that no lead is completely safe at Fenway.

Hunter induced four grounders and a strikeout in two perfect innings while Gausman relied more on his fastball than we’ve seen recently in striking out one and allowing a two-out double to Pablo Sandoval in the eighth in an otherwise stress-free outing.

The Orioles are supremely confident in Britton and O’Day in the back end of the bullpen, but they need the quartet of Hunter, Gausman, Brach, and Brian Matusz to consistently bridge the gap from the starters to the late innings. With the bullpen currently hamstrung by Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia — he’s pitched only twice in the first dozen games of the season — Showalter needs more efficiency than usual from the rest of his relievers.

With the lineup currently missing former All-Star selections J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters as well as young second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles need their pitching to pick up some of the slack in the coming days and weeks to continue winning games.

Jones rightfully received the headlines for another blistering day at the plate Sunday that included a home run and five RBIs, but it was the improved work from Hunter and Gausman that was the most encouraging development for the Orioles as they pulled into a first-place tie with Boston in the American League East going into Monday morning’s Patriots’ Day finale.

And the Orioles bullpen turned what could have been a nightmarish weekend in Boston into a chance to take three of four from the offense-happy Red Sox.

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Schoop out indefinitely with partially-torn PCL, sprained MCL

Posted on 18 April 2015 by Luke Jones

The injury bug continues to bite the Orioles as second baseman Jonathan Schoop has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee injury suffered in Friday’s loss to Boston.

The 23-year-old suffered a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament and a mild sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee when he tripped over first base running out a grounder. Fortunately, he did not suffer any damage to his anterior cruciate ligament.

Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that Schoop’s injury was not caused by the hard slide of Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval trying to break up a double play in the second inning.

There is no timetable for Schoop’s return, but Showalter expressed optimism that the young infielder will return at some point this season. His injury will not require surgery and is apparently not as serious as the PCL tear suffered by veteran infielder Wilson Betemit in spring training two years ago. Betemit did not return until late August of that season and appeared in only six games before being released a few weeks later.

Schoop is expected to travel to Sarasota to begin rehabbing the injury. This is the third significant knee injury suffered by an Orioles infielder under age 24 in less than two years after third baseman Manny Machado suffered serious knee injuries in each of the last two seasons.

Infielder Jimmy Paredes was activated from the 15-day DL to take Schoop’s place on the 25-man roster. With Schoop joining shortstop J.J. Hardy on the DL, the Orioles’ decision to sign veteran infielder Everth Cabrera appears that much wiser less than two months later. Cabrera was starting at shortstop with Ryan Flaherty playing second base in Saturday’s game against the Red Sox.

The Orioles will clearly miss Schoop’s strong defense at second base, but his strong start offensively had fans salivating at his potential in his second full season as he was batting .259 with three home runs, seven RBIs, and a .940 on-base plus slugging percentage in 29 plate appearances.

 

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Jimenez ejected from Friday night’s game

Posted on 17 April 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles’ four-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park got off to a bizarre start Friday night with the fourth-inning ejection of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

Jimenez had yet to allow a hit when he plunked Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the upper back on the first pitch of a plate appearance that came with two outs and nobody on base in the fourth. Without warning, home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejected the right-hander from the game, much to the disgust of manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles.

In the second inning, Sandoval had slid hard into second baseman Jonathan Schoop trying to break up a potential double play, but no one from the Orioles had appeared to react with any initial animosity. The former San Francisco Giants third baseman entered the night 11-for-34 with two home runs and five RBIs in his career against Jimenez.

After the 4-3 loss, Showalter labeled the decision to throw Jimenez out of the game “professionally embarrassing” in an interview with MASN and wanted Major League Baseball to be aware of his disenchantment with Baker’s decision.

Baker’s decision to toss the Baltimore hurler was unusual to put it kindly considering neither side had even been issued a warning and Jimenez is notorious for having control problems after walking 5.5 batters per nine innings last season. Even though he hadn’t allowed a hit, the 31-year-old had already walked three hitters on the evening.

With the Orioles facing one of the best lineups in baseball for four games at Fenway this weekend, the forced exit was not an encouraging development in forcing Showalter to go to his bullpen in the fourth inning of the opener. Right-hander Kevin Gausman came on to relieve Jimenez.

It’s clear that Baker thought Jimenez threw at Sandoval intentionally, but issuing a warning to each side would have been the more appropriate action without upsetting the competitive balance of the game — and possibly the series — and potentially creating more bad blood in the first of 19 games between the clubs this season.

Baker is a fourth-year major league umpire and has gained attention for an unusual ritual, making you wonder if Jimenez inadvertently — or intentionally, in the umpire’s mind — stole some of his bubblegum before the game.

 

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2015 American League East preview

Posted on 04 April 2015 by Luke Jones

No team has won the American League East with fewer than 95 wins since the 2000 New York Yankees won just 87 games in the regular season before eventually winning the World Series.

That 14-year run will end this season with the division showing more parity — and vulnerability — than it has in a long time.

Below is a capsule of the five AL East clubs in their predicted order of finish:

1. BALTIMORE (2014 record: 96-66, first place)
Notable additions: INF Everth Cabrera, OF Travis Snider, LHP Wesley Wright
Notable losses: OF Nelson Cruz, OF Nick Markakis, LHP Andrew Miller
Why to like them: The defense remains excellent, which will again transform a solid but unspectacular rotation and an already-strong bullpen into a pitching staff good enough to seriously contend.
Why to dislike them: Dan Duquette rested on his laurels by not bringing in a safer bet to replace either Cruz or Markakis, which puts much dependence on players returning from injuries.
Player to watch: Snider is a former first-round pick and is coming off an excellent second half with Pittsburgh, making him a solid candidate to be the Orioles’ annual surprising performer.
2015 outlook (89-73): I don’t love this Orioles club, but the Buck Showalter effect as well as bounce-back years from Manny Machado and Chris Davis will be enough to offset the void left behind by Cruz and Markakis. It’s tough to shake the feeling that 2014 was their last best chance to win a pennant with this core, but the Orioles don’t have as many glaring weaknesses or questions as their AL East foes.

2. BOSTON (2014 record: 71-91, fifth place)
Notable additions: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Hanley Ramirez, RHP Rick Porcello, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Justin Masterson
Notable losses: OF Yoenis Cespedes, 3B Will Middlebrooks
Why to like them: After struggling to score runs last season, the revamped Red Sox are primed to have one of the best lineups in baseball with dependable veterans and high-upside youth.
Why to dislike them: Four of their five projected starting pitchers weren’t on the roster a year ago and all but Porcello posted an ERA above 4.00 in 2014.
Player to watch: Center fielder Mookie Betts has raked all spring as teammates and observers have gushed over his potential at the top of the Boston order.
2015 outlook (87-75): If a similar roster were constructed 10 years ago, the Red Sox would be the overwhelming favorite to win the AL East with such an imposing lineup and they still might do it anyway. However, the current pitching-rich era in baseball makes you doubt an underwhelming rotation and a suspect bullpen. The pitching is what will ultimately prevent Boston from seizing the AL East title.

3. TORONTO (2014 record: 83-79, third place)
Notable additions: 3B Josh Donaldson, C Russell Martin, OF Michael Saunders
Notable losses: OF Melky Cabrera, INF Brett Lawrie, LHP J.A. Happ
Why to like them: After already scoring plenty of runs last year, the Blue Jays have a more potent lineup with the addition of an MVP-caliber player like Donaldson and the veteran Martin.
Why to dislike them: The bullpen is suspect and the rotation will lean on graybeards R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle while hoping youngsters Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris develop quickly.
Player to watch: The 21-year-old lefty Norris has plenty of talent and will begin the season in the Toronto rotation despite logging just 58 1/3 innings above the Single-A level in the minors.
2015 outlook (83-79): Nothing gets people going more about a club’s potential than talented young pitching, but it rarely comes together as quickly as you’d like. That reality along with a bullpen lacking the arms to consistently back them up will be the Blue Jays’ undoing late in the season as they fade behind Baltimore and Boston.

4. TAMPA BAY (2014 record: 77-85, fourth place)
Notable additions: OF Steven Souza, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, OF/C John Jaso
Notable losses: UTI Ben Zobrist, OF Wil Myers, RHP Jeremy Hellickson
Why to like them: If they’re able to overcome some early injury concerns, the Rays probably have the best starting rotation in the division, which will keep them competitive.
Why to dislike them: Offense was always a weakness even in their best years, but no one scares you at all in the current lineup except for third baseman Evan Longoria.
Player to watch: The 25-year-old Souza shows promise, but the Rays desperately need the offensive success he enjoyed at Triple-A Syracuse last season to carry over with his new club.
2015 outlook (80-82): The overall makeup of this division would have screamed for you to bet on the underdog Rays in past years, but that was before the departures of manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman. With starting pitchers Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Matt Moore currently on the mend, the Rays will lag behind in the division early before improving as the year continues.

5. NEW YORK (2014 record: 84-78, second place)
Notable additions: SS Didi Gregorius, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Nathan Eovaldi
Notable losses: RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP David Robertson, SS Derek Jeter
Why to like them: The upside of starting pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda speaks for itself if they can stay healthy.
Why to dislike them: Old, injury-prone, and expensive is no way to go through a 162-game season, which is exactly what the Yankees are trying to do at this point.
Player to watch: Reliever Dellin Betances is coming off a terrific season, but his velocity is down and his command has been poor this spring, which will cause him to share closer duties with Miller early on.
2015 outlook (78-84): The names you’ll find up and down the Yankees’ lineup would have had you salivating in 2011, but age and injuries will put too much pressure on a starting rotation praying that Tanaka’s elbow holds up and the 34-year-old Sabathia bounces back from knee surgery. The Yankees won’t be awful, but they will finish in last place for the first time since 1990.

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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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Orioles add “good piece” in Miller while Oakland, Detroit make colossal moves

Posted on 31 July 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles bolstered their bullpen at the trade deadline with the acquisition of relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.

The trade appears to have improved Baltimore’s chances of winning the American League East, but a look ahead to October and the blockbuster deals pulled off by the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers created a more sobering tone as the deadline passed on Thursday afternoon. Make no mistake, the Orioles are better with the acquisition of one of the best lefty relievers in baseball, but Oakland landing Boston ace Jon Lester and Detroit securing 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price certainly hurt Baltimore’s chances of winning the pennant should they advance to the postseason.

The Orioles may have improved, but the Athletic and Tigers took colossal leaps in their quest to advance to the World Series. But it’s a reality in which manager Buck Showalter and his club can’t dwell with only a 2 1/2 game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays entering Thursday’s series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m not sure we had the wherewithal to land a top starter,” said executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who indicated teams kept bringing up 23-year-old Kevin Gausman in trade talks. “We have some other really attractive players, but some of them are helping our current club, right?

“You just have to weigh what you can do to strengthen your ball club, and I thought adding Miller really strengthens our club, particularly when we have a lead. And it allows some of those other relievers to come into the game and pitch earlier. It shortens up the game a little bit when you have relievers who can get out both righties and lefties. This kid has been dominant against both.”

Right or wrong, the Orioles remained steadfast in not dealing any of their top young pitchers with Gausman currently in the major league rotation and 21-year-old Dylan Bundy working his way back from last year’s Tommy John surgery. The recent elbow injury to 2013 first-round pick Hunter Harvey certainly didn’t make the Orioles any more eager to deal one of their few top pieces.

And there’s no telling how absurd the asking price might have still been to try to acquire Lester or Price from an AL East rival — even if the Orioles were willing to deal one of their young pitchers.

Miller posted a 2.34 ERA in 50 appearances spanning 42 1/3 innings for the Red Sox this season. He has held right-handed bats to a .180 average and lefties to a .150 clip. The 29-year-old is averaging 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, which is also significant considering the Orioles rank 14th in the American League in strikeouts this season.

It remains to be seen who will be sent out to make room for Miller in the current bullpen as right-hander Brad Brach and left-hander T.J. McFarland would be the logical possibilities since they both have minor-league options.

“He’s just another good piece,” said Showalter, who added that Miller is expected to be in uniform and available to pitch in Friday’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners. “He goes with some other good pieces down there. He gives us more depth down there [to] keep passing the load around. I think he’s a little more than just a left-handed arm. You look at left-handed relievers, the ideal ones are the guys that you’ve got left-right-left and you can leave them in there for the [right-handed hitter].”

Miller is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, making the price of giving up Rodriguez a costly one as the Venezuelan lefty was viewed as the organization’s fourth-best pitching prospect entering the 2014 season. Slowed by a knee injury earlier this season, the 21-year-old Rodriguez was 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts for Double-A Bowie this season.

Duquette acknowledged a preference not to give up Rodriguez in the trade for Miller that was in the works over the last couple weeks before picking up steam in recent days.

“It wasn’t our first choice to trade him. The kid has talent and he has youth, but again, our team is in the race,” Duquette said. “We want to continue what we started, and we needed to add to our club to be competitive with the other clubs — not just in our division, but the other clubs in the American League in the playoff situation.”

Of course, that argument suffers when witnessing what else transpired around the league.

Miller’s career follows a similar narrative to that of current Orioles reliever Brian Matusz in that he’s a former first-round draft pick to have failed as a starter in the major leagues before settling into a bullpen role. However, he is an imposing option against hitters on either side of the plate while Matusz continues to struggle against right-handed hitters this season, a major factor that prompted the Orioles to make the move.

Duquette said the Orioles would still consider making some offensive upgrades to their lineup but made a point to praise the current combination of pitching and defense to go with the club’s power. Players must now pass through waivers in order to be traded, but a number of key moves have been made in that capacity around baseball over the last few years.

“We’ve got some hitters at Triple A that are swinging the bats pretty well,” Duquette said. “We picked up (Jimmy) Paredes, Dariel Alvarez is doing a good job at Triple A, and there will be some other opportunities for some bats through the waiver process. There won’t be much going on now because everybody needs waivers to get traded, so that won’t happen right away. But some time in the next couple of weeks there will be some opportunities for us to address those needs.”

The Orioles certainly took a step forward in their division on Thursday, but Oakland and Detroit may have lapped them in the race for the Fall Classic. And even if Duquette made the right call in keeping his young pitching, there’s no changing that possibility.

 

 

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: While Lester joins race, O’s head back to dumpster

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Glenn Clark

Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to you by Koons Baltimore Ford. Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish may also be brought to you by Koons Baltimore Ford because every now and then my buddy Dennis Koulatsos is willing to hang out with the little guys.

(A reminder that I have bought as many cars from Koons Baltimore Ford in my life as Josh Hamilton has home runs this season.)

I had wanted to write this morning about the HIGH-LARIOUS letter Bud Selig sent the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals according to the Hollywood Reporter. It’s classic Bud. “You guys remember how I screwed this whole thing from the beginning? Well now you have to fix it on your own or you’re gonna get it!”

Sadly I’ll have to pass for now.

Remember Tuesday morning when I was so full of piss, vinegar and hope? I mean, I knew better than to REALLY think this was going to go the right way, but didn’t I have the right to hope?

And then Tuesday night while I was sitting at Oriole Park at Camden Yards…boom.

That’s the report from WEEI in Beantown, where Tuesday D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction guest Rob Bradford played the role of “bringer of bad news.” Lester was scratched from his start Wednesday night and is slated to be dealt to a contender before the non-waiver deadline Thursday.

It won’t be Baltimore.

Look, I was significantly less hopeful of the possibility after chatting with Bradford on Tuesday morning’s show. The Sox reporter told us that trading within the division wasn’t really much of a stumbling block but said the team was looking to add legitimate hitting prospects. While there’s reason to believe the likes of Christian Walker and Dariel Alvarez have the potential to be legitimate major league players in the future-they are not thought of nearly on the level of the top prospects in other organizations.

The Orioles may have done everything they could to put together a viable package in exchange for the All-Star left hander and someone else may have simply had more to offer. If that had been the case, there wouldn’t have been much for guys like me to complain about. Lester was the PERFECT rental player to consider doing something bold to acquire as the team looks to take advantage of their best chance to win a World Series since 1997.

But since this is Dan Duquette and the Baltimore Orioles, I guess we should have known it was more likely going to be this (according to MLB.com)…

If the O’s do add pitching depth, it figures to be bullpen help or a starter they can have ready in the Minor Leagues.

Ugh.

It’s not as if either of these ideas is terrible in a vacuum. I haven’t particularly thought the Birds NEEDED to add bullpen depth in order to win, but it can never hurt. Grabbing a pitcher with options could potentially end up being helpful should one of the five or six guys they currently have end up failing down the stretch due to injury or performance.

But those types of move most certainly aren’t bold. They’re not the type of moves that would likely make up the difference between “playoff contender” and “World Series winner”.

They’re dumpster dives. They’re exactly what the Orioles do in the Dan Duquette era.

It’s not as if Duquette has NEVER made a “bold” move for the Birds…he’s made exactly one. Unfortunately that one was the one that had an up and down outing for the Aberdeen Ironbirds Tuesday night. (That’s Ubaldo Jimenez…I’d like to think you knew that.)

Bud Norris was a solid move that didn’t cost the Orioles a heavy price. Similarly, the team has traded for the likes of Scott Feldman, Michael Morse, David Lough and Francisco Rodriguez without particularly significant risk. Perhaps the “boldest” trade Duquette has made in his Charm City tenure was to swap Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel. It wasn’t a “dumpster dive”, but it wasn’t exactly Ruben Sierra for Jose Canseco either.

Outside of Jimenez, Duquette’s free agent strategy has also failed to show anything “bold”. The Birds cashed in on a deal of minimal cost for Nelson Cruz, while finding pieces like Ryan Webb even more minimally. The Birds have always been more than willing to go the route of a Nate McLouth (to a reasonable level of success), Lew Ford, Johan Santana or Heath Bell in the Duquette era as well.

I believe Heath Bell’s permanent address is the dumpster in the alley outside your office at this point.

I hope I end up being wrong. I hope the team ends up winning the World Series with their current rotation that appears to have no true ace. Their best starter for the totality of the season (Chris Tillman) was roughed up by the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday night but the Birds managed to win anyway. I hope that after winning the World Series, the Birds end up competing to win three or four more titles in the next decade thanks to the likes of Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey, who Duquette has made untouchable heading towards Thursday’s deadline.

I really hope we don’t regret the fact that a team that appeared to be an ace short of being a true World Series contender didn’t take the chance to boldly acquire Jon Lester.

In the meantime-when you throw your leftover Chinese food away today-see if you can’t find a starter for the second game of the ALDS.

-G

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Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish: I probably shouldn’t, but I’d support bold Lester trade

Posted on 29 July 2014 by Glenn Clark

Drew’s Morning Dish is brought to you every day by Koons Baltimore Ford. Since they didn’t tell me otherwise Monday, I’ll assume Glenn’s Drew’s Morning Dish is also brought to you today by Koons Baltimore Ford-where I have bought something like five cars at this point.

I assume a good bit of Tuesday’s “D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” will surround the reaction Ray Rice received Monday night at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium practice. I’ll make time for that conversation throughout the show-but more importantly I’ll note here I was pleased to not see the Ravens running back utilize his “flex” celebration at any point during the evening.

The “other” big story Tuesday will be the news that the Baltimore Orioles have contacted the Boston Red Sox about the potential to acquire starting pitcher Jon Lester. The news was reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi and IMMEDIATELY becomes the most interesting trade target of the season (or at least since they were talking to the Chicago Cubs about Jeff Samardzija before the Oakland deal).

Unlike the other two starting pitchers the Birds have been positively connected to in the past week (AJ Burnett and Jorge De La Rosa), Lester represents something important-an actual upgrade. While the others would simply fall into the group of slightly above average starters the O’s already have five (six if you choose to count $50 million man Ubaldo Jimenez) of, the veteran left hander would immediately move to the top of the Baltimore rotation and would be slated to start Game 1 of a potential playoff series.

Lester has had an outstanding career including two World Series titles-but his 2014 season is shaping up to be his best. As he heads toward free agency, the 30 year old is 10-7 with a dazzling 2.52 ERA and sparkling 1.11 WHIP over 21 starts. It is logical that the Red Sox are listening to trade offers for him (and reportedly John Lackey as well) after dealing Jake Peavy to San Francisco over the weekend. After suffering a blowout loss Monday night, the Sox fell to 48-58 on the season and are 11 games back of the Orioles in last place in the AL East.

With free agency looming for the Red Sox, they find themselves in the enviable position of being able to potentially acquire young talent in exchange for Lester before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline and then ultimately end up re-signing him anyway during the offseason. The Orioles have done this in the past with SS Mike Bordick (netting them likely future team Hall of Famer Melvin Mora) and pitcher Sidney Ponson (netting them…nothing really).

It’s possible that as we near the deadline, the Sox could find themselves a little more willing to sell low knowing Lester can’t really help them the rest of the season. The more likely scenario is that the team will have no shortage of suitors and will be looking for even more to be willing to deal the three time All-Star within the division.

For the Orioles, a move to rent Lester could cost a package centered around top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and/or Hunter Harvey. The most likely scenario would be that the team would not retain him moving forward and he would depart to a higher paying suitor (perhaps a return to Beantown) after the season.

So the question becomes simple-is it worth giving up a former first round pick (or more) to add one pitcher for the next two months.

My answer is that it might well be.

Like everyone else in this business, I can’t see the future. Perhaps the gal with three nipples from the movie “Mallrats” could tell us more about what Bundy/Harvey/Eduardo Rodriguez/Christian Walker/Dariel Alvarez/etc. are going to be in the future and what Lester will do for the next couple of months if he changes addresses. I can’t give you those answers. I can only tell you I’d be willing to take the risk.

(For the record, I wouldn’t even discuss Kevin Gausman in any trade. He’s far too important to the team’s chances of winning now. I would struggle to part with both Bundy and Harvey in a Lester trade and probably WOULDN’T be able to pull the trigger.)

Lester is the perfect prize to receive if you’re taking a chance at a World Series championship. He’s not in the middle of a disappointing season. There are no doubts about his ability to pitch against American League competition or in AL East ballparks. There are no doubts about how he’d handle high-pressure starts late in the season or potentially in the postseason.

He’s nothing more than an opportunity to put a historically good lefty at the top of your rotation as you try to separate yourself in a division that isn’t going quitting (the Blue Jays pulled to within 2.5 games by beating Boston Monday night). He further represents an opportunity to better set up against the likes of the Athletics, Tigers and Angels in a potential playoff series.

It comes with a hefty price and may or may not truly be realistic, but Lester is exactly what the O’s need at this point to truly bolster themselves for a playoff run.

I don’t know how we’d view a deal like this in five years, but for Tuesday-it’s a deal I’d be willing to make.

-G

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Lackey on Cruz: “There’s things I’d like to say, but I’m not going to”

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Left fielder Nelson Cruz had a huge night for the Baltimore Orioles Saturday against the Boston Red Sox, but one person in particular wasn’t all that interested in showering him with praise after the game.

“I’m not even going to comment on him”, Sox starter John Lackey told reporters after the game according to the Providence Journal. “I’ve got nothing to say about him. There’s things I would like to say, but I’m not going to.”

Lackey was almost certainly referring to the 50 game suspension Cruz received in 2013 related to PED’s and his association to Biogenesis.

Cruz was apparently not asked about Lackey’s comments after Saturday night’s game.

The former Texas Ranger had an incredible night, going 5-5 for the Birds in their 7-4 win in Game 2 of a doubleheader. Cruz had two doubles, getting thrown out at third base on the second trying to stretch the play into a triple that would have allowed him to hit for the cycle for the first time in his career.

Cruz’s home run Saturday was his 27th of the season, leaving him tied with Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox for the major league lead. He is expected to be announced as an All-Star starter at Designated Hitter for the American League when the teams are announced Sunday night.

Lackey was roughed up by the Birds, allowing five earned runs over just 5.1 innings pitched. Baltimore touched up the Sox starter for 10 hits and a walk in earning the doubleheader split.

NOTES: Teams have until 1pm Sunday to place a waiver claim on OF Nolan Reimold, who the Orioles designated for assignment earlier in the week after activating him from the 60 day disabled list…Reliever Preston Guilmet was returned to the AAA Norfolk Tides following Saturday night’s game. The Orioles had taken advantage of the MLB rule that allows teams to use a 26th man for the second game of a doubleheader in order to bring Guilmet up…Third baseman Manny Machado returned to the team Saturday night after serving a five game suspension. Machado went 2-5 with a double and a run scored in his return; the O’s were 4-1 in the five games without him…Manager Buck Showalter told reporters in Boston that pitcher Bud Norris’ simulated game “went well” Saturday (the starter threw between games of the doubleheader) and he will start Tuesday or Wednesday for the Birds against the Washington Nationals after being activated from the 15 day DL…Kevin Gausman will be called up Sunday to start in the series finale, reliever Ramon Ramirez is considered the most likely candidate to be sent down to make room for the former first round pick on the 25 man roster

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