Tag Archive | "toronto"

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Report: Blue Jays team president staying put for 2015 season

Posted on 09 December 2014 by Luke Jones

It appears the uncertainty surrounding Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was all for nothing.

According to the Toronto Sun and FOX Sports, Toronto Blue Jays team president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston will remain in the position through the 2015 season. The news likely means the Orioles can rest easy about Duquette, who was reportedly interested in the job and viewed as a top candidate.

It remains unclear why news of potential replacements for the Blue Jays position was floated, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos made it clear Sunday that he expected Duquette to honor his current contract that runs through the 2018 season. Duquette reiterated Monday that he was under contract and representing the Orioles at the winter meetings, but he didn’t go out of his way to squash reports of his potential interest in joining the Blue Jays.

Beeston has spent large stretches of the last four decades working in the Blue Jays organization, serving as CEO from 1991 through 1997 and then returning to Toronto in the same capacity in 2008 after a five-year stint as the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball.

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Report: Duquette wants to leave Orioles to become Blue Jays president/CEO

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Report: Duquette wants to leave Orioles to become Blue Jays president/CEO

Posted on 07 December 2014 by Luke Jones

What’s already been a difficult offseason for the Orioles could become much worse.

Multiple outlets are reporting executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is a candidate to become the president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays. Duquette wants to take the position with only owner Peter Angelos standing in the way, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The 56-year-old is under contract through the 2018 season and helped guide the Orioles to their first two playoff appearances and first American League East title since 1997. However, it could be difficult for the organization to stand in his way from a pragmatic standpoint if his heart is truly in running another organization.

Angelos made it clear to MASNSports.com that he has no intention of letting Duquette jump ship.

“They would have to contact us and ask if we’re willing to relinquish him,” Angelos said in the interview. “We’re not relinquishing him, period. He’s signed for four more years, and we’re delighted by the team’s performance. We intend for him to remain for the next four years. We’re satisfied with him, obviously.”

Baltimore would likely seek compensation from the Blue Jays if Duquette were to be allowed to leave.

The Orioles have already lost outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and left-handed reliever Andrew Miller in free agency this offseaosn, but Duquette’s departure would be a stunning blow for an organization that appeared to turn a corner following 14 consecutive losing seasons. Duquette was recognized as the executive of the year by Sporting News and Baseball America after the Orioles won 96 games to run away with the division title.

Duquette previously served as the general manager for the Montreal Expos from 1991 through 1994 and for the Boston Red Sox from 1994 through 2002. He has often spoken fondly of the late Harry Dalton, who once served as Orioles general manager and gave Duquette his start as a scouting assistant with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1980.

The executive addressed the rumors on MLB Network Radio after he arrived in San Diego for the winter meetings.

“Well, I’m with the Orioles, OK?” he said. “I’m here to represent the Orioles at the meetings, and I don’t really have anything to add other than that. These rumors, they come up in the industry all the time and I don’t spend a lot of time speculating on the rumors and I’m not in a position to do that here, either.

“And I do have a contract, and I’ve always honored my contract, so I appreciate the interest, and I don’t have anything else to add.”

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Former Oriole Reimold claimed off waivers by Blue Jays

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Former Oriole Reimold claimed off waivers by Blue Jays

Posted on 06 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Nolan Reimold was claimed off outright waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday.

The claim ends a week of speculation about the outfielder’s future. The Baltimore Orioles had activated Reimold from the 60 day disabled list (back) earlier in the week and designated him for assignment. After failing to be able to trade him, the Birds placed Reimold on outright waivers Friday.

The Blue Jays will be on the hook for the remainder of his $1.025 million salary this season.

Reimold’s Baltimore tenure ends after his most recent trip to the DL came following spine fusion surgery in the spring. This surgery was the most recent in a line of health-related issues for the Bowling Green alum. After being sidelined by an oblique strain and achilles tendon fraying early in his career, Reimold’s most significant issues began in 2012. He previously had surgery for a herniated disc in June 2012 that shortened his season, he was forced to have corrective surgery just a year later to fix the previous procedure.

Since arriving in the big leagues in 2009, Reimold played in just 286 games (all with the Orioles). He hit .252/.327/.439 with 41 home runs and 126 RBI in the span.

The O’s appeared to view Reimold as expendable in part due to a glut of right handed hitting outfielder/designated hitter/first base types on the major league roster. Manager Buck Showalter has struggled to find regular playing time for hot hitting Delmon Young due to Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce’s outstanding success to start the season as well.

CRUZ RESPONDS: Speaking of Cruz, he responded to comments made about him Saturday night by Red Sox pitcher John Lackey when speaking to reporters pre-game Sunday.

After the left fielder went 5-5 and came just a triple short of the cycle Saturday night, Lackey said “I’m not even going to comment on him. I’ve got nothing to say about him. There’s things I would like to say, but I’m not going to.”

The starter was clearly referring to Cruz’s 50 game suspension in 2013 related to PED’s and his relationship with Biogenesis.

Cruz was asked about the comments by reporters Sunday, saying “people can say whatever they want. It’s part of being free. I don’t have any comments about that,” according to CSNBaltimore.com. “What I care about is my teammates and what they think about me.”

He added “everybody is free to talk. What I care about is what I’m doing here.”

Showalter also addressed the comments in his pre-game chat with reporters, saying “you consider sources of people and some of their emotions after the game, whether it be a player’s comment or a manager’s comment or some fan’s comment. You understand that nobody makes those comments after they pitched a complete game shutout or Nelson is 0-for-5. It’s human nature. We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’s,” also according to CSNBaltimore.com.

NOTES: Showalter re-affirmed to reporters in Boston that Bud Norris (groin) came out of his simulated game Saturday well and is expected to start Tuesday or Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. The Baltimore Sun reported the team is leaning towards Tuesday to get him an extra start before the All-Star break…MLB.com reports Sunday starter Kevin Gausman is not guaranteed to make another start before the All-Star break, saying the Birds could send him back down to get another reliever before the final week of the first half of the season…Slumping first baseman Chris Davis did not start Sunday as Showalter decided to give him a day of rest. Davis came into the day with just two hits in his last 34 at-bats

 

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“It could be worse” shaping into 2014 theme for Orioles

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“It could be worse” shaping into 2014 theme for Orioles

Posted on 15 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The theme of the 2014 season has begun taking shape through the first 68 games as the Orioles stand at 35-33 and 4 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East.

It could be worse. 

A 5-5 homestand doesn’t sound too devastating when acknowledging seven of those contests came against the two best teams in the AL, but it feels very underwhelming when the Orioles’ normally-maligned rotation provided nine quality starts against Oakland, Boston, and Toronto. A 5-2 loss on Sunday prevented Baltimore from taking three of four from the first-place Blue Jays despite a fourth straight quality start against an offense entering Sunday ranked second in runs and first in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) in the league.

No, they didn’t lose any ground to the first-place club in the division and remain firmly in the race in an underwhelming AL East, but the weekend and the homestand could have been better. The Orioles were electing to focus on the positive after Sunday’s loss.

“Not frustrating,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “They’re a good team. We could have gotten swept; we could have swept them. Look at the bright side — we got two out of four. Now, let’s go on the road and start the series off right [Monday] in Tampa.”

The loss came at the hands of Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, who entered Sunday with a 4.37 ERA after giving up 12 earned runs in his previous three starts. The Orioles were held to a meager 29 runs over these last 10 games, with the high point of frustration coming in the Red Sox series when they allowed just one run total but still couldn’t complete a three-game sweep.

Any offense will go through its peaks and valleys over the course of a 162-game schedule, but the Orioles just haven’t been able to put it together. When they’re clicking offensively, the pitching has gone down the tubes, and the Orioles’ better stretches of pitching have come when the lineup struggles as it did during the second-longest homestand of the year.

Of course, the pitching issues were expected this season, but the Orioles entered Sunday ranked ninth in the AL in runs scored. The offensive inconsistency is that much more frustrating when they enter a rare stretch in which the starting pitching thrives.

“If you go through a little spell and you’re not swinging the bats well, your pitching allows you to stay competitive to that point,” manager Buck Showalter said. “So, it just depends how you want to look at it, but you’d like to have both of them clicking. But we haven’t been able to do that consistently yet.”

The silver lining in Sunday’s loss was the performance of right-hander Chris Tillman, who turned in his second straight quality start after a disastrous one-inning start in Texas on June 4 that had everyone questioning his status in the rotation. Both Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez have disappointed through the first 2 1/2 months of the season, but the rest of the rotation has pitched well recently, including 23-year-old Kevin Gausman after his latest promotion.

Even with others pitching well, the Orioles need Tillman to regain his 2013 All-Star form and can only hope his 13 innings of work during the homestand are steps in the right direction despite the two losses. Against Toronto on Sunday, he allowed three earned runs over seven innings, his longest outing since his complete-game shutout in Kansas City on May 16.

“We’re getting somewhere. Starting to feel like my old self,” said Tillman, who didn’t record any strikeouts or walks against the Blue Jays. “Making better pitches and feeling confident in the ability to make a pitch. Command the strike zone, that’s big. Made some big pitches at times, but also left some balls up.”

The Orioles’ long list of issues and misfortunes have been repeated over and over this year.

Catcher Matt Wieters will visit Dr. James Andrews for a second time on Monday and may officially learn he will need season-ending elbow surgery.

First baseman Chris Davis is on pace to hit roughly half the number of home runs he hit last year and shortstop J.J. Hardy is still looking for his first long ball of the season in the middle of June.

Third baseman Manny Machado has been a mess at the plate and fetched a five-game suspension for his embarrassing bat-throwing incident last weekend.

And Tillman and Jimenez have been the rotation’s worst two pitchers after being identified as the duo to lead the staff back to the postseason. The Orioles entered Sunday ranking 11th in starter ERA and sixth in bullpen ERA in the AL.

Still, the Orioles remain within striking distance and show no evidence of dropping out of the race anytime soon in such an underwhelming division. The problem is they’re not displaying any signs of being on the verge of snapping off an extended winning streak to stake their claim to the top of the division, either.

As we enter the second half of June, the Orioles have offered a vibe similar to last season — three steps forward, two steps back, two steps forward, three steps back.

Decent, but not good enough.

“It’s the game of baseball. Frustration is every day,” Jones said. “But that’s how the cookie crumbles. You can’t dwell on things. If you’re put in the situation, try and succeed. If you don’t, wait for another opportunity.”

Other opportunities will come, but you can’t help but feel the Orioles missed one over these last 10 games.

Yes, it could’ve been worse.

But it could have been better.

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Gausman’s upside too good to pass up for Orioles rotation

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Gausman’s upside too good to pass up for Orioles rotation

Posted on 13 June 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter wasn’t ready to commit to a decision, but he had to know the truth following a series-opening 4-2 win over the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays.

Following a second straight quality start and an impressive six-inning performance over another first-place team, 23-year-old right-hander Kevin Gausman deserves to remain in the rotation — at least, for now. Sure, the details might be a little foggy at the moment with Miguel Gonzalez — who turned in four straight quality starts before suffering an oblique strain — slated to return from the 15-day disabled list early next week, but Gausman’s upside is too much to overlook as the Orioles closed the gap to 3 1/2 games in the AL East on Thursday night.

“He’s done what it takes to be considered,” Showalter said. “He’s taking care of his end of it. And the good news for us is we’ve got some other people capable of pitching well, too. … ‘Gaus’ has pitched well in his two outings. I hope he’s starting to grasp what it takes to consistently help this team win.”

Pitching well against average opponents is one thing, but Gausman held Oakland and Toronto — two of the best offenses in the major leagues — to two runs in 13 innings to earn his first two wins as a major league starter. After being selected with the fourth overall pick of the 2012 draft, Gausman is starting to provide major-league substance to go along with the sizzle of a high-90s fastball that caused many to project him as a future ace coming out of Louisiana State University.

Already possessing a plus fastball and an impressive split changeup, Gausman has credited the development of two additional pitches in his repertoire to make himself a more viable option as a major league starter. Those pitches have been on display in his two outings since replacing Gonzalez in the starting rotation last week.

“I didn’t throw a circle change until I got to the big leagues last year, and I think it’s one of my better pitches now,” said Gausman, who relied on the pitch even more than his splitter on Thursday night. “My slider has gotten better as the year has gone on. It’s tremendously better than last year.”

The problem for Showalter is figuring out exactly how to handle his starting rotation. He’s spent the last few days downplaying the discussion of a six-man rotation that started last week before the season-ending Achilles injury suffered by veteran Johan Santana, but that always remains a distinct possibility.

Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, and Bud Norris are currently pitching too well to remove from the rotation, and the Orioles remain hopeful that 2013 All-Star selection Chris Tillman will build on his most-recent start against Boston to eventually regain his form from the last two seasons. That leaves right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and the $50 million contract he signed during spring training.

His 5.01 ERA is the worst among the five starters as Jimenez is coming off his worst start of the season in a disastrous 11-1 loss to Oakland on Sunday. Of course, the Orioles should have known that Jimenez wasn’t a model of consistency when they signed him to a four-year deal but recognized his upside of being able to dominate when his unorthodox mechanics are in check.

Would the organization consider temporarily shifting him to the bullpen or attempt to find a physical concern to put him on the DL to give him time to revamp his mechanics? It’s difficult to say after the Orioles made the biggest long-term commitment to a pitcher in franchise history just a few months ago.

Still, the questions about how to accommodate Gausman should not overshadow what he could bring to the rotation over the final 3 1/2 months of the season as the Orioles try to advance to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. A simple assessment from one of the best hitters in a tough Athletics lineup told everything you need to know about the pitcher’s ability after he held Oakland to one run in seven innings last Saturday night.

That included a dominating sequence in which he struck out Josh Donaldson on an 85 mph splitter and Brandon Moss on a 99 mph fastball to leave runners stranded on second and third in the sixth. It was a big-boy performance in which a starter shows that rare ability to reach a new level late in an outing.

And it left one of the best offenses in the majors thoroughly impressed.

“I got to home plate in my first at-bat and I looked at [the catcher] and said, ‘How is that guy in Triple A?’” said Moss, who has 16 home runs and 53 runs batted in this season. “From what I understand, he’s had some command issues [in the past] and stuff like that. The way he pitched [Saturday] night was the best stuff we’ve seen all year.

“The first at-bat, you could tell he had [velocity], but you never know how that’s going to go. We can adapt to that. But the second and third at-bats, he started to mix in off-speed for strikes and balls and keeping it down. And then he had 99 in the tank when he had to hump up. You’re going to run into guys like that every now and then. We tried to battle.”

The Orioles must use a similar line of thinking with Gausman to what they did upon signing Jimenez to a four-year contract in focusing on the upside. The jury’s still out on whether the Jimenez contract will prove to be a wise one, but the goal of finding a pitcher who can dominate for important stretches of time — such as in a September pennant race or in a tight five- or seven-game series in October — should make it an easy decision to keep Gausman around for now.

If he regresses or proves incapable of building upon what he did against Oakland and Toronto, you can always send him back to Triple-A Norfolk. At the very least, Gausman deserves the chance to prove he doesn’t belong in the majors after these two starts that suggested the very opposite.

Perhaps he can be that missing piece that Showalter wasn’t necessarily depending on at the beginning of the season but will ultimately need. The Orioles manager would certainly take it if Gausman is ready to become that guy.

“Every team, to get where you want to get at the end of the season, the last team standing, if you look back at the characteristics of all of those teams, something that they weren’t particularly counting on appeared on the scene and was a big difference-maker. Kevin has the possibility of being that, but he’s going to need a lot of help.”

First, he needs the chance to do it.

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Ovechkin, Neuvirth Rally Caps Past Leafs, 3-2

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Ovechkin, Neuvirth Rally Caps Past Leafs, 3-2

Posted on 10 January 2014 by Ed Frankovic

Michal Neuvirth, playing his first game since late November, had every right to be upset after Karl Alzner’s stick deflected a Phil Kessel shot from a weak angle by him to give Toronto a 2-1 lead just 54 seconds into the third period.  But #30 didn’t sulk, and in more important fashion, Neuvy made a game changing save on Mason Raymond, who was wide open in the slot, just 65 ticks later. If Raymond’s shot goes in, the game is pretty much over as Washington would’ve gone down 3-1. But Neuvirth made a great glove save.

Shortly thereafter, the Capitals started to take the play after slightly being outplayed by the visitors, to that point. Nicklas Backstrom would tie it at the 4:36 mark after strong work in the offensive zone and then Alexander Ovechkin (1 goal, 1 assist) made a great pass to Marcus Johansson, who then fed Joel Ward in the slot, and #42 buried the game winner just after David “Overpaid” Clarkson’s penalty expired.

Washington then closed out the final 8:09 of time and won their second straight contest in regulation to improve to 22-16-6 (50 points), which puts them in a second place tie with the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.

With both teams having played the previous night, the first period had a sleepy feel to it and neither club dented the twine. But that changed in the middle frame and boy did the intensity pick up after Dion Phaneuf and John Erskine had a roughing match with the linesman sandwiched between them. #4 would end up getting the extra minor, a call that had Coach Adam Oates as mad as I’ve ever seen him on the bench. The Caps killed the extra minor and then Ovechkin scored his 32nd of the season after great work by Mike Green in the corner and a super pass by Mikhail Grabovski.

But, as usual, the Caps couldn’t stand prosperity and the Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk scored on the power play just 2:29 later. Then the intensity went to an even higher level, fueled by the Phaneuf-Erksine spat and likely also by a shaky hit from behind by Nazem Kadri on Alzner along the Caps bench. For some reason Toronto’s Carter Ashton then decided it would be a good idea to fight rookie Tom Wilson and talk about a bad plan, #43 pummeled the son of former NHLer, Brent.

That undercard bout would lead to the main event, Colton Orr vs. Erskine and Big John pounded Orr in a decisive victory. Unfortunately the fight wins didn’t translate into goals on the ice as the Leafs carried more of the play from then until the Kessel tally early in the third period.

But Neuvirth (32 saves) came through with the huge stop on Raymond when this game was in question and saved his club.

It was a big victory, granted it was over a struggling Leafs squad, but Washington needs wins now and Neuvy allowed his club to finally wake up and grab the contest.

So that is two strong goaltending performances in a row for the Caps. Philipp Grubauer was super in Tampa on Thursday and Neuvirth was excellent on Friday against Toronto. #30 still wants to be traded, but with a grueling stretch coming up, Oates is gonna need his keepers to play well.

What also helped Neuvirth tonight was the Caps clamped down in the neutral zone and avoided offensive zone turnovers. As a result the Leafs did not get any two on ones or breakaways. At best, they may have had one or two three on two’s. That is real progress for Washington, granted it was against a team that struggles to own the puck. The Capitals still allowed 34 shots on net and 66 attempts to the Leafs against 35 and 68 for the Caps, respectively, so they did not totally dominate puck possession.

Overall, it was a pretty even game but Neuvirth made some big stops when needed and the Capitals top players, Ovechkin and Backstrom, delivered down the stretch to help Washington eke out a victory.

Notes: Washington was 0 for 4 on the power play and afterwards Oates blamed much of that on the Verizon Center ice, calling it “terrible tonight”…the Leafs went 1 for 3 with the man advantage…the Caps lost the faceoff battle 39-34 and Toronto’s first goal came right after a defensive zone loss by Brooks Laich on the PK…next up for the Caps are the Buffalo Sabres at 3pm at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Ryan Miller made 49 saves last time these two teams met in Buffalo.

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Hammel not answering call in Orioles rotation

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Hammel not answering call in Orioles rotation

Posted on 13 July 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — Orioles manager Buck Showalter expressed confidence that Jason Hammel’s best games still lie ahead in the second half after Saturday’s 7-3 loss to Toronto.

And it’s a good thing too, because the struggling starting pitcher didn’t sound like he had much in himself after allowing six earned runs in six-plus innings to the Blue Jays. After plunking No. 9 hitter Emilio Bonifacio and walking Jose Reyes to begin the seventh inning, Hammel was lifted by Showalter to watch those runners eventually score, raising his earned run average to 5.24 on the season.

“I hate seeing him come out every time in the seventh inning when we’ve had a lead and I’ve given it back,” said Hammel, referring to the 3-2 lead he relinquished an inning earlier by giving up four straight singles with two outs. “I’ve got to hand the ball over to him and today was no different. I was very frustrated, actually kind of spiked it into his hand. I was a little [ticked] off. It’s frustrating.”

Winless since May 27 and unable to build on three straight quality starts from Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Chris Tillman heading into Saturday, Hammel appears to be the weakest link in the rotation despite receiving the Opening Day start less than four months ago. He fell to 7-6 on the season and now has a 6.65 ERA in eight home starts (46 innings) this season. Only two of those have been quality starts as his frustration boiled over following Saturday’s loss.

His 2012 first half in which he was an American League finalist for the All-Star Game’s final fan vote must feel like a distant memory for the 30-year-old right-hander, who’s status in the starting rotation has to be in question for the second half. The heavy-hitting Blue Jays were all over him early, evident by Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run homer in the first inning. To Hammel’s credit, he rebounded to throw four straight scoreless frames before once again running into trouble at the end of the day.

“Unacceptable. Far too many baserunners, getting behind hitters,” Hammel said. “[That's a] fastball-hitting club that I’m feeding fastballs. It’s easy to hit when you know what is coming. I’m not throwing sliders for strikes, not throwing curveballs where I want them. Changeup is nonexistent. I’m beating myself right now.”

The biggest downfall for Hammel in 2013 has been his inability to duplicate the success he enjoyed with his two-seam fastball a year ago when he was able to frequently induce grounders and mix in his breaking stuff to overpower hitters. In 20 starts in 2012 — Hammel missed most of the second half after undergoing right knee surgery in July — he went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA and posted career bests with 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.24 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

Those numbers prompted Showalter to give Hammel the ball in Game 1 of the American League Division Series despite the fact that he made only three regular-season starts after the All-Star break. Showalter hoped Hammel would be their de facto ace in 2013 by awarding him the start on Opening Day, but he hasn’t looked the part sans a handful of outings this season.

Without the two-seamer being a consistent factor this year, Hammel’s pitches have been consistently up in the zone as he’s allowed 19 home runs in his 19 starts this season, just two shy of his career-worst total of 21 in 2011.

“He’s pitched some good games. You can go back through that,” Showalter said. “There are some things that didn’t work out. But I think it bodes well for the rest of the season because he’s capable of better and I think his best games are ahead of him.”

As much as the Orioles hoped last season was a renaissance for Hammel after underwhelming runs with Tampa Bay and Colorado, his numbers this season are more reflective of his pre-2012 statistics when he occasionally bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen with his former clubs. His current ERA and home run totals are higher than his career numbers (4.80 ERA and 1.5 homers per nine innings entering Saturday), but his current WHIP (1.44) and strikeouts per nine innings (6.3) are nearly identical to his career numbers (1.43 and 6.6).

Much to the organization’s chagrin after failing to acquire a veteran starting pitcher in the offseason, it appears Hammel’s 2012 season was the outlier and his performance this season is simply returning to the norm. That revelation makes it no easier for any of the involved parties, however, in the midst of a pennant race.

“This first half, honestly, is unacceptable for me,” said Hammel, who plans to get away from baseball over the All-Star break to clear his mind and believes he’s been trying too hard to make adjustments between starts. “I’m better than this and it’s on my shoulders. It’s on nobody else. It’s fixable. It’s just I’ve got to get out of my own way.”

Hammel doesn’t appear to be in immediate danger of losing his spot in the rotation, but beyond the top three of Gonzalez, Chen, and Tillman, the Orioles must find more consistency from the back end of the rotation, which includes the newly-acquired Scott Feldman. Otherwise, Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette will have no choice but to revisit the possibility of rookie Kevin Gausman or another option such as Steve Johnson receiving another shot while continuing to explore the possibility of another trade.

The timing of Hammel’s struggles couldn’t be worse for him personally as he is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. While some encouraged the Orioles to sign Hammel to an extension last winter, his future with the organization beyond the next few months now appears in doubt due to his performance this season.

For now, the Orioles continue to express confidence in Hammel, who threw first-pitch strikes to just 13 of the 28 hitters he faced in Saturday’s loss. But that confidence can only go so far in the second half in a very tight AL East race.

“I think it’s just you’ve got to get ahead of guys,” said first baseman Chris Davis, who clubbed his major league-leading 36th home run of the year Saturday. “I think Ham is obviously a guy who has really good stuff if he can go out there and get ahead of guys. If you put the [count in his favor], I think he’s successful.”

The Orioles keep waiting — perhaps only hoping at this point? — for last year’s Hammel to suddenly appear. But after 19 starts of results more closely mirroring the rest of his career, you wonder how much longer they can wait before looking elsewhere.

Even Hammel acknowledged as much on Saturday.

“I know these guys are pulling for me,” Hammel said. “I do believe the best days are ahead, but it’s got to happen fast if we want to make this a championship season. I’m a big part of it and I have to get it right.”

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Your Monday Reality Check: Unlike would-be assailants, Buck rises above fray

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Your Monday Reality Check: Unlike would-be assailants, Buck rises above fray

Posted on 24 June 2013 by Glenn Clark

There are a few of you who I’m assuming were forced to find a new baseball team to root for Sunday night.

Actually, I’m probably speaking to a smaller audience as many of you jumped ship to become fans of the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees or Washington Nationals or some other team.

No? So you’re telling me you don’t know ANYONE who posted something on Saturday night saying something along the lines of “If the Orioles don’t put one in Jose Bautista’s ear Sunday I’ll lose all respect for Buck Showalter and stop rooting for them”?

I’m not talking about a large group of people who suggested they would swear off the team. There were certainly a few, and many more who suggested they would lose respect for the skipper even if they didn’t stop rooting for the team.

The Baltimore Orioles were swept by the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, a disappointing series outcome even against a red hot Jays team that has now won 11 straight games. In Saturday’s 4-2 loss, Jose Bautista hit a tie-breaking two run bomb in the 8th inning. As he rounded third base, Bautista offered the following gesture to Birds reliever Darren O’Day…

It was immediately pointed out by many that O’Day had been a bit animated himself Friday night when he recorded a big seventh inning strikeout of Bautista in the Birds’ 7-6 loss. However quite a few Birds fans (clearly frustrated by seeing the bullpen falter for the second consecutive evening) took to social media to suggest Bautista’s gesture fell into the area of baseball’s “unwritten rules” and meant an O’s pitcher might need to go head hunting Sunday.

I immediately responded to those thoughts with a post at the WNST.net Facebook page Saturday afternoon…

I would share the responses to my post, but they aren’t particularly family friendly. I mean, am I even allowed to share “Go Fist Yourself” as one particularly deranged commenter suggested I do?

Multiple posts suggested I was unaware of baseball’s “unwritten rules” and therefore incapable of doing my job. Those people (of course) couldn’t be further from being accurate. Not only am I aware of the “unwritten rules”, I through a high-five the day Maxim shredded them because I know them well enough to absolutely detest them.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 27 May 2013 by Glenn Clark

We’re doing things backwards a bit this week because of the holiday. The “Monday Reality Check” will now be a “Tuesday Reality Check.” T10BD reflects the week beginning tomorrow, May 28 through Monday, June 3rd. And before we get started, this feels appropriate.

Honorable Mention: MLL-Hamilton Nationals @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7:30pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on CBS Sports Network); WNBA: Atlanta Dream @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm Verizon Center)

10. Tim McGraw (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Kelly Rowland & The Dream (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Pop Evil (Thursday 7pm Rams Head Live); Aaron Neville (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Bacon Brothers (Friday & Saturday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head on Stage), Candlebox (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Fall Out Boy (Friday 8pm 9:30 Club); Flobots (Sunday 7pm U Street Music Hall); John Fogerty “Wrote A Song For Everyone” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Not much to like here. I mean, I’m not a Tim McGraw guy but I’ve had a few BBQ stains in my day…

Dear Aaron Neville-thanks for letting us borrow your city to win a Super Bowl. Cheers!

I hate how much people my age know every word to every Fall Out Boy song. But damn if I’m not one of them.

John Fogerty + Foo Fighters + “Fortunate Son” = I might watch this video all night.

9. Artie Lange (Saturday 7:30pm & 10pm Howard Theatre); Kevin James (Wednesday 7:30pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Hal Sparks (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); After Earth” and “Now You See Me” out in theaters (Friday); Artfest (Saturday 12pm Boordy Vineyards); Great Grapes! Wine and Food Festival (Saturday & Sunday 12pm Oregon Ridge); “A Taste Of Two Cities”-Baltimore vs. DC Food Trucks (Saturday 12pm Rash Field)

I feel like Baltimore should EASILY win a competition against DC in terms of food. All you do is show up with some sweet corn and lather it in Old Bay. Competition over. The Clark Family did a bit too much of that over Memorial Day weekend…

Competition still going? We shove Peppermint Sticks in lemons around these parts, son. What now?

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Caps GM McPhee faces very critical week

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Caps GM McPhee faces very critical week

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee is arguably facing his most critical week in his 16 year tenure.

His Caps sit at 15-17-1, 11th place in the Eastern Conference and 23rd overall in the NHL, with the trade deadline just one week away on April 3rd at 3pm.

It is waters they have not chartered since 2006-07 and a team that won four straight Southeast Division titles from 2008 to 2011 with 94, 108, 121, and 107 points, respectively, and had 92 points and finished eighth in the East last season, is currently moving towards a location often called “No Man’s Land.”

No Man’s Land is a spot in the NHL where you aren’t good enough to contend for the Stanley Cup, likely won’t make the playoffs, but also aren’t bad enough to land one of the top three spots in the draft. It is a position where it is very difficult to get better quickly, just ask the Calgary Flames or the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been the President and Vice President of No Man’s Land in the NHL the last several years. Those teams, who have rabid and demanding fan bases, have recently routinely gone with the mind set that they are only a player or two away from the playoffs or contending in them. Both have been reluctant to take a critical step back in order to possibly move two or three steps forward (that might finally be changing in Calgary this spring, but is it too late?).

The Capitals were headed to No Man’s Land once before, in the days of Jaromir Jagr, but owner Ted Leonsis and McPhee went the “blow it up” route and started over. For the most part, especially from a business standpoint, they had success and it landed them Alexander Oveckhin, who is worth the price of admission on most nights, all by himself. It is important to note that hockey is first and foremost a business to many owners. So the bottom line is vital. Thus the push to just get into the playoffs can often be the difference between being in the red or black. The bottom line can drive an approach that constantly looks at the short term solution instead of the bigger picture.

This is a danger I see for the Caps right now. They are a team that has an incredible home sellout streak of 169 games and the marketable product in Ovechkin. But everyone knows in the Baltimore/DC area that winning is your most marketable item. This region demands a winner and when a club can’t consistently do that, the fan base erodes exponentially (see the Baltimore Orioles for 14 years). So owner Ted Leonsis surely is leery of what the impacts of a losing season or missing the playoffs would do to his club that generates full building after full building these days. So it can be a risk to have a losing season.

Clearly the Caps would love to make a run and reach the postseason this year but after last night’s loss to New York Islanders, they are seven points out of first place in the Southeast Division and four points behind the Rangers for eighth place overall in the Eastern Conference. With no Western Conference matchups, it is very difficult to make up ground. To reach the post season, the Capitals will likely need to go 11-4 or something along those lines. Is that really doable with this team, one that is finally healthy and still couldn’t beat John Tavares and company, at home, in a very important game?

That is a question that McPhee needs to ask himself because the way I see it right now he has three options over the next week:

1. Stand pat and do nothing

2. Become a buyer and try to make the post season

3. Sell off some assets ensuring a post season miss but put yourself in position to snag one of the elite players in what appears to be a draft with some impact players at the top.

In option one it will be difficult to make the postseason and the Caps likely end up 9th or 10th in the East. They would have low odds to win the new draft lottery to pick first overall and probably would draft around the 10th to 14th spot in New Jersey in June. In addition, unless they sign Mike Ribeiro, they likely lose him to unrestricted free agency after the season.

In the second choice, McPhee would really need to add an impact player to get this team to go 11-4 down the stretch. It would have to be a top line winger and to do that they have to give something up, likely their first round pick this year or perhaps one of their recent first round picks (Evgeny Kuznetsov, Filip Forsberg, or Tom Wilson). It is a mortgage the future type of move that might get them in the postseason but likely doesn’t put them in a real position to contend for the Stanley Cup given what the Pittsburgh Penguins roster looks like now after acquiring Brenden Morrow and Doug Murray. Making the playoffs would help the bottom line but would the price be too great? Then they’d still have the issue of trying to sign Ribeiro along with the asset they acquired at the deadline. The Caps currently have only $15M of salary cap space for 2013-14 with just 15 players under contract. Two top six forwards would eat up much of that and McPhee still has to sign defensemen Karl Alzner who is a restricted free agent, as well as some other players. Sure the competitor in me would like to give it a shot but depending on what you have to give up this season for a top six forward asset, doesn’t appear to make a lot of sense.

Therefore, option three seems to be the smart move. Signing Ribeiro is going to be awfully tough to do and with number 9 at 33 years old and wanting a five year deal, it just doesn’t seem like a wise option on his terms. Remember Michal Nylander? That signing in 2007 arguably cost McPhee the salary cap space he needed in 2009 to shore up a Washington defense that was likely the biggest thing holding them back from beating the Penguins in 2009 and going on to win the Stanley Cup. So why hamstring yourself with a big contract to an aging player and risk that scenario all over again when you are planning on contending again?

But if you can get a number one draft pick or more this year for Ribeiro, then you should deal him. Sure you will definitely miss the playoffs but you also now have two first round picks and could package them to possibly move up to number one, two, or three and get one of Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, or Jonathan Drouin. Jones, according to my sources, is the best player in the draft and NHL ready now. He very likely will be a number one defensemen on a team in the NHL in a couple of years. He’s a team changer. Snag him and you suddenly have options to possibly move some of your other defensemen, like Mike Green, who you are paying $6M a season now.

In addition to Ribeiro or Green, there are other guys on this roster that teams might be interested in such as Marcus Johansson or Joel Ward or one of the three goalies (Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth, or Philip Grubauer) at the trade deadline.

What McPhee and his staff need to do is work to the Baltimore Ravens model of “Right Player, Right Price.” You have to know the value you place on every player on your team and in the league and make moves accordingly. Washington’s pro scouts will really need to be doing their jobs well and feeding the GM the info he requires to make some hard decisions. If you do it right you don’t overpay for your own guys and can end up with better players at or below that price (see the Ravens getting Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty, and Marcus Spears for the same overall amount the Cleveland Browns paid for Paul Kruger).

McPhee has made some very smart decisions on players before, such as Semyon Varlamov, who he traded for a 1st and 2nd round pick. The 1st rounder is now Forsberg while the Capitals haven’t taken any hit at all in the goaltending department. Sergei Fedorov for Theo Ruth was another blue ribbon deal by the GM that made the Caps a legit Stanley Cup contender for two straight springs. But he’s also had some not so good decisions (re-signing an aging Tom Poti for two years, the four year deal for Jeff Schultz, and the two years given to an aging Roman Hamrlik). Those contracts have impacted Washington’s salary cap while not yielding quality results on the ice.

With Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, and John Carlson having long term deals clearly they are the guys for McPhee to build around going forward. Everyone else should be up grabs. It is Asset Management 101 at this point for Washington. They need to do what they can to transform a team that was one of the best in the league from 2008 to 2010, but has steadily declined, back into a Cup contender.

Sure its a risk from a marketing standpoint, but the fans in this area recognize when you are going in the right direction and will have the patience to endure a reshaping of the roster, especially if they believe it will eventually lead to Washington’s first Stanley Cup. So it’s a low risk play and if the moves are done right and there is a championship in the next few years or so, then you have people locked into your team long term (see the Philadelphia Flyers, who still sell out despite not winning a Cup since 1975).

So this is a huge week for McPhee and one he has three roads he can possibly take. They aren’t easy decisions and only he and his staff really know what options are going to be available to him in return for his current assets.

The path he ultimately chooses will likely make or break his and the Capitals future.

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