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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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Maier glove used to catch 1996 Jeter homer auctioned off

Posted on 16 February 2015 by Luke Jones

A week after former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis auctioned off a Super Bowl ring that was a gift from owner Steve Bisciotti, Baltimore fans now have an opportunity to own a piece of local sports infamy.

The glove Jeffrey Maier used to corral a Derek Jeter fly ball over the right-field fence at old Yankee Stadium against the Orioles in the 1996 American League Championship Series is being auctioned off this week. As of Monday evening, the leading bid at Heritage Auctions came in at $13,000.

While Maier was beloved in New York for his assist, the then-12-year-old was a villain in Baltimore as Jeter’s home run tied Game 1 and the Yankees went on to win the series opener on a Bernie Williams homer in the 11th. Orioles fans have long wondered if the series — won by the Yankees in five games — might have been different had fan interference been ruled on the eighth-inning fly that right fielder Tony Tarasco was camped under before Maier’s glove deflected it over the fence.

Many Orioles fans suggested on social media Monday that the glove needs be burned as a way to exorcise a curse as Baltimore hasn’t advanced to the World Series since 1983. The Orioles have been unsuccessful in three trips to the ALCS since their last championship, also falling in 1997 and 2014.

Of course, some fans quipped that umpire Rich Garcia should purchase the glove since it was his failure to call interference that was the real culprit of the Orioles’ controversial Game 1 loss in the Bronx.

 

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Ex-Orioles reliever Miller agrees to join Yankees

Posted on 05 December 2014 by Luke Jones

In a move that was expected after the Orioles hadn’t pursued him in free agency, left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract to join the New York Yankees on Friday.

The news comes at the end of a very difficult week for the Orioles after they had already lost free-agent outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to the Seattle Mariners and the Atlanta Braves, respectively. It remains undetermined whether Miller will assume the closer role in New York, but his deal would be the richest awarded to a non-closer relief pitcher in major league history.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez on July 31, Miller was a major part of the Orioles’ push for their first American League East title since 1997. The 6-foot-7 lefty pitched to a 1.35 ERA and struck out 34 hitters in 20 innings for Baltimore to close out the regular season, stepping into a late-inning role to set up for closer Zach Britton.

Miller’s work was even more dominating in the postseason as he pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit while striking out eight.

The Orioles were never in the picture in terms of keeping Miller as he was always expected to receive lucrative money, but his destination is bad news for the rest of the AL East.  Miller will join right-hander Dellin Betances in forming what could be the most dominating relief duo in the major leagues.

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Former Orioles second baseman Roberts announces retirement

Posted on 18 October 2014 by Luke Jones

After 14 major league seasons, former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has decided to call it a career.

Spending all but one season in Baltimore, the 37-year-old was released by the New York Yankees in August and confirmed his retirement to multiple outlets on Friday. The two-time All-Star selection is a sure bet to be elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame as he ranks in the franchise’s top 10 in a number of categories including hits, walks, doubles, triples, runs, total bases, and stolen bases.

Of course, the injury-riddled end to Roberts’ time in Baltimore tarnished his legacy in many fans’ eyes as he averaged just under 57 games played per season over his last five years when he dealt with back, hamstring, hip, and concussion-related issues.This came on the heels of a four-year, $40 million extension that ran through the 2013 season.

Roberts signed a one-year deal with the Yankees last winter after the Orioles didn’t express any real interest in retaining his services.

He finishes his career with a .276 lifetime average with 97 home runs, 542 runs batted in, 367 doubles, and 285 stolen bases. His 56 doubles in 2009 set the franchise’s single-season record.

Roberts was a supplemental first-round pick in the 1999 amateur draft. He was named in the infamous Mitchell Report in 2007 and later said he tried steroids only once in 2003.

 

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WFAN’s Giglio thinks Yankees will not make big move before deadline

Posted on 11 July 2014 by WNST Audio

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The Kings and I, a sports lovestory

Posted on 07 June 2014 by WNST Staff

Once upon a time, I met a girl who didn’t understand a lick about football.

Or baseball.

Or basketball.  Or golf.  Or fantasy football.  Or beer.  Or funny movies.

Off-the-bat, we had nothing in common other than the fact that I love hot chicks and she was–definitely still is–a chick who is hot.

Though she failed my Diner-themed Baltimore sports assessment, I married her anyway.  It was our shining moment of compromise, due to the fact that I was apparently being held to some sort of standard as well–I failed her health requirements of long walks after dinner and proposed reduction of my caloric intake.

As the story goes, she’s taught me a little about eating vegetables and hot yoga; I’ve taught her what a Mike-Backer is.  She’s helped me understand “normal people portions” of wings and ice cream; I’ve helped her understand why and when Buck Showalter tinkles the game away by over-managing.

Recently, though, we’ve run into a conundrum of sorts.  She’s curious about hockey–and due to her childhood, she even has an idea of how the game is played.  Naturally, being a sports guy and now a writer for WNST, she took it for granted that I knew something about hockey.

It’s like one of those deep dark secrets that now, in the first year of marriage, is finally coming out.  The other night, when the Kings took game one, she asked me who their best player was, and my answer propelled the fertilizer to hit the fan:

“Wayne Gretzky.”  Yes, I said Wayne Gretzky.

All the cliches of people who don’t know sports started flooding my brain.  From the goons roaming Camden Yards once per year wondering when Cal Ripken is batting next, to the dummies who still think Matt Stover is booting field goals at The Bank, I’ve never been among the cretins of general sports knowledge–until I said “Wayne Gretzky.”

Of course I know Gretzky retired years ago.  But it was the only answer I had.  I shot back to the one-season-Saturday-morning-childhood-cartoon Pro Stars, that featured Gretzky teaming up with Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson to save the world.  I remembered he wore Kings garb.  It was all I had to go on.

Naturally, in my emasculated state of mind, I ate some raw ground beef and did what any manly sports man would do: I Googled things.  Let me take you through a little play-by-play:

  • Off-the-bat, I saw that there’s a puck–okay, cool, I knew that.  This is easy stuff.
  • I learned there’s a rule called “Butt-ending.” A penalty where a player jabs another with the end of his stick.  Ok, sounds kind of weird.
  • Next I stumbled on rules like “Checked from Behind,” “Spearing,” and “Hooking.”  Um, yea, maybe I should move away from the rules.

Next I started to look up things like “how to play hockey.”  Let me walk you through that one:

  • Ah, great, an article that will tell me how to play this foreign game.
  • First point “learn to skate properly, even if you’re a goalie.”  Okay, I might have started a little too far back.
  • Next “pass the puck,” and “get in good physical condition.”  Yea, this is worthless.

At least I can say I tried to learn hockey.  As for my wife, well, she’s still way ahead of me; she curbed my misguided disdain over the self-fabricated idea that the NHL sold the naming rights of The “Stanley” Cup to the Black and Decker guys.  Who knew?

She educated me on four specific reasons why I should root for the Kings heading into game-two of the Finals:

  1. They’re playing the Rangers, who are from New York, meaning that naturally, some Yankees fans will be susceptible to disappointment and heartbreak.  Sweet.
  2. They play in LA, meaning that naturally, some Clippers fans have a chance to feel good about something.  I’m cool with that.
  3. Wayne Gretzky was a member of the team.  I enjoyed his cartoon.
  4. Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina, is a hot chick.  I love hot chicks.

It all makes sense now.  Go Kings.

 

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Be thankful the Orioles don’t have the Toronto pitching staff

Posted on 25 April 2014 by Drew Forrester

With my computer out of commission, I bring you an audio version of Drew’s Morning Dish HERE

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Orioles to make multiple Sunday Night Baseball appearances early in season

Posted on 15 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Multiple Appearances by World Series Champion Red Sox, NL Champion Cardinals, Dodgers, Yankees & Orioles

Stars in Action: Miguel Cabrera, Yasiel Puig, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen

Dan Shulman, the voice of Sunday Nights, leads new team with John Kruk, Curt Schilling & Buster Olney 

ESPN’s historic 25th season of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell – Major League Baseball’s exclusive, national game of the week – will showcase baseball’s most exciting teams, best rivalries and brightest stars throughout 2014. The season will begin with an exclusive presentation of MLB’s Opening Night on ESPN presented by Scotts – Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres – on March 30 at 8 p.m. ET.  Baseball Tonight will precede the telecast with a special 90-minute pre-game show at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Karl Ravech.

The early season schedule will include three appearances each by the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. In addition, the game’s brightest stars, including Miguel Cabrera, Yasiel Puig, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen and more will take center stage on Sunday Night Baseball.

Dan Shulman, in his fourth season as the voice of Sunday Night Baseball, will lead a new team, with new analyst Curt Schilling, returning analyst John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney. Sunday Night Baseball airs every week at 8 p.m.  and is available on ESPN, ESPN Radio (with Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton), ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and via WatchESPN.

ESPN’s 25th Sunday Night Baseball Season

Date Game
March 30 Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres telecast presented by Scotts
April 6* San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers telecast presented by Taco Bell (ESPN2)
April 13 Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees telecast presented by Taco Bell
April 20** Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Soxtelecast presented by Taco Bell (7 p.m.)
April 27 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at New York Yankees telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 4 TBD
May 11 St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 18 Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 25 St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds telecast presented by Taco Bell
July 13 New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles telecast presented by Taco Bell
July 20 Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals telecast presented by Taco Bell

   *ESPN2 telecast

  ** Special 7 p.m. start time

The Sunday Night Baseball game selection for May 4 will be determined and announced in the next few weeks. Additionally, selections for June games and for July 6 and July 27 will be made three weeks in advance, while selections for August and September games will be made two weeks in advance.

More Sunday Night Baseball highlights:

  • The Boston Red Sox will host the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park for a special telecast the night before Patriot’s Day – a Massachusetts state holiday one year removed from the Boston Marathon tragedy in 2013;
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates return to Sunday Night Baseball for the first time since May 19, 2002 against the Houston Astros;
  • The schedule includes several rivalry games: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers (April 6), Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (April 13), St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (May 25);

Sunday Night Baseball background:

  • Dan Shulman is entering his fourth season as the voice of Sunday Night Baseball. He debuted in 2011;
  • John Kruk is celebrating his 10-year anniversary at ESPN and his second season in the Sunday Night booth (he joined ESPN in 2004);
  • Curt Schilling, who has served as a Baseball Tonight analyst since 2010, makes his Sunday Night Baseball debut;
  • Buster Olney is entering his 12th season as an ESPN MLB Insider. He joined ESPN in 2003 and has served as Sunday Night reporter since 2011;
  • John Kruk and Curt Schilling re-unite as a “team” two decades after being teammates on the early-1990’s Philadelphia Phillies, who won the National League pennant in 1993.

Sunday Night Baseball history

ESPN’s inaugural Sunday Night Baseball telecast aired April 15, 1990. That night, the Montreal Expos defeated the New York Mets 3-1 at Olympic Stadium. Expos catcher Nelson Santovenia hit a home run off of Mets pitcher Ron Darling and Tim Raines drove in a run to lead the Expos to victory. John Miller and analyst Joe Morgan provided commentary.

Baseball Tonight’s 25th Season

In its 25th season, Baseball Tonight – ESPN’s baseball news and highlights studio show – will preview Sunday Night Baseball each week with one-hour telecasts at 7 p.m.  Karl Ravech will serve as host with analysts from ESPN’s deep roster of MLB commentators, let by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN Radio

ESPN Radio – in its 17th MLB season – will continue its coverage as the exclusive, national radio home of Sunday Night Baseball. Play-by-play commentator Jon Sciambi and analyst Chris Singleton will return for their fourth season together calling Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN Radio. ESPN Radio’s weekly coverage starts at 7 p.m. and is also available on ESPNRadio.com and via the ESPNRadio app.

ESPN Deportes’ 11th Season of Sunday Night Baseball

ESPN Deportes will enter its 11th season as the Spanish-language home to Sunday Night Baseball. Commentators Ernesto Jerez and Luis Alfredo Alvarez will provide commentary throughout the season.

ESPN International coverage of Sunday Night Baseball

Sunday Night Baseball is available across Latin America, Caribbean and the Pacific Rim.

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Roberts reportedly agrees to one-year deal with Yankees

Posted on 17 December 2013 by WNST Staff

After spending his entire major league career with the Orioles, second baseman Brian Roberts is apparently on his way to New York.

The 36-year-old has agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Yankees after a 13-year run with the Orioles, according to a FOX Sports report. He became a free agent at the end of a four-year, $40 million contract that he signed before the 2010 season. He’s a two-time All-Star and a career .278 hitter.

New York was in the market for a second baseman after Robinson Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners earlier this month and will reportedly offer incentives in the agreement.

Battling an array of injuries over his final four years with the Orioles, Roberts hit .249 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in in 77 games this season. He was the club’s supplemental pick in the 1999 amateur draft and the longest-tenured player in the organization.

Earlier in the day, the Orioles signed former Nationals first-round pick Chris Marrero to a minor-league contract. The 25-year-old first baseman never panned out after eight seasons with the Washington organization.

In 125 major league at-bats, Marrero has hit just .232 and is a career .282 hitter in the minor leagues.

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Big week for charity, giveaways, Ravens shows, bus trips and Hooters girls at WNST!

Posted on 27 August 2013 by WNST Staff

It’s a jam packed week here at WNST, with more chances for you to hang out, mingle, win prizes and meet players than perhaps we’ve ever slammed into a single week before.

THURSDAY NIGHT:

Glenn Clark from “The Reality Check” continues his “Grab a Bud” happy hour series at Hooters in Towson courtesy of Budweiser. Glenn will be rooting the Orioles on against the Red Sox, showing some major support for Towson against UConn and keeping tabs on the Ravens as they visit the Rams. If you stop by Hooters, not only will there be Hooters girls, but you can take advantage of some of their brand new menu additions, including “The Southwestern.”

The WNST.net staff got a taste of this beauty last week. It’s glorious. Everyone who attends Thursday night will be registered to win tickets to see Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”, who made a hilarious appearance on “The Reality Check” last week that’s worth listening to if you missed it) Sept. 4 or Kenny Loggins Sept. 15 at The Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric. Glenn will be giving away tickets on site, so anyone who stops by between 7pm and 8pm will be registered. There will be other great giveaways as well, and rumor has it there are girls at Hooters. Just a rumor.

FRIDAY NIGHT:

As the Grand Prix of Baltimore gets underway downtown (we encourage you to get your tickets now!), WNST has two incredible events lined up. First, we’ll kick off our 2013 Ravens player show series with Super Bowl XLVII champion left tackle Bryant McKinnie at Adams Jeep in Aberdeen. The show gets underway at 7pm. We’ve had a ton of fun with the man known as “Mt. McKinnie” over the years. Sometimes he even gets into song.

If you want pictures and autographs with Bryant Friday night, make sure you go right now to get your ticket. The autograph ticket will cost you just a $15 donation to Living Classrooms Foundation. (ALL proceeds go to the Living Classrooms Foundation.) Get your tickets now, there are a ton of rowdy Ravens fans in Harford County that will be out in full force.

Later Friday night, Glenn Clark and Nestor Aparicio will wander down Route 40 to Exscape Nightclub for a huge orange celebration. Between 8:30 and 10:30, we’ll be rooting on the Birds as they battle the Yankees with a FREE taco bar and $5 Orange Crush Machados. As if that wasn’t enough, every single person who stops by to see us between 8:30 and 10:30 will walk away with a very awesome “Crush Davis” t-shirt courtesy of The Zone Superstore. See a look at the back of the shirt below. Another rumor? There are also girls at Exscape Night Club.

SATURDAY:

Our tradition of taking Baltimore Orioles fans on the road continues, as our Orange Roadtrip to The Bronx to see the Birds battle the Yanks departs White Marsh at 7am. It’s a tremendous chance for you to root on the O’s in an ALDS rematch against a team they’re fighting with again this year for a postseason spot. The trip is just $119 per person and includes the ride up and back, ticket, beer/soda/breakfast/snacks. With an afternoon start, the bus should return at a very reasonable time.

Here’s trip down memory lane to our first ever trip to the new Yankee Stadium…

Keep all of this in mind as you prepare for your Labor Day weekend. It’s going to be a ton of fun throughout Charm City (and beyond) for the WNST crew. Look forward to seeing you around!

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