Tag Archive | "Zach Britton"

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 4.42.10 PM

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

Twelve Orioles thoughts on approaching trade deadline

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Luke Jones

With the non-waiver trade deadline just three weeks away, I’ve offered a dozen Orioles thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Manny Machado wasn’t pleased being asked by New York media about the Yankees’ reported trade interest after Monday’s doubleheader, but I don’t blame him after he’d answered multiple questions about his future earlier in the day. He’s handled the endless trade questions very well all season.

2. Machado has repeatedly stated his desire to stay at shortstop, but that’s a bigger issue for free agency than a contender needing a third baseman for 2 1/2 months. He was a pro deferring to J.J. Hardy for years, so this shouldn’t be any different, especially having a chance to win.

3. Any serious objection to trading Machado to the Yankees is based only on emotion. If theirs is the best offer, the Orioles would be foolish not to accept. Refusing to trade him to the Yankees won’t prevent him from signing in the Bronx if that’s where he wants to be.

4. The idea that the Orioles will deliberately keep Machado until after the All-Star Game in Washington was only a theory presented by another baseball executive to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, but that even being a possibility speaks to the negative perception of the organization. That must change.

5. Zach Britton has averaged a season-best 95.8 miles per hour on his sinker in each of his last two outings. That’s an encouraging sign and should ease some concerns about his poor performance and underwhelming velocity over his first eight outings of the season.

6. Meanwhile, Brad Brach’s trade value has been torpedoed by a 4.63 season ERA and a 7.50 mark since June 7. At this point, I’m not sure he’ll fetch much more than what the Orioles got for Tommy Hunter in 2015, a deal that brought only “Quad-A” outfielder Junior Lake.

7. In this era in which minor-league prospects are valued more than ever, packaging Machado and Britton together seems like a sound approach to land the two or three talents you really covet from another organization. Contenders can never have enough bullpen help, making that a formidable rental duo.

8. It’s hardly shocking there hasn’t been more out there about Adam Jones as marquee talents like Machado dominate headlines, but he remains a solid trade piece. His defense in center is a big topic of discussion, but don’t forget the remainder of his $17.33 million salary owed for 2018.

9. With that in mind, you’d like to see the Orioles be willing to eat some money in an effort to sweeten the pot of prospects coming their way. Including some cash could really improve a deal with a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold.

10. Time will tell what talent the Orioles secure in trades, but it’s encouraging seeing them target a number of prospects at the Single- and Double-A levels. The worst thing they could do is insist on major-league ready talent — with a lower ceiling — in an effort to be competitive in 2019.

11. His defensive struggles and a $13.5 million salary for 2019 are major obstacles, but Mark Trumbo is doing what he can to present himself as a long-shot trade piece. He entered Tuesday second on the Orioles with 12 homers and owns an .803 on-base plus slugging percentage. It’s still doubtful.

12. When you’re 40-plus games under .500 in July, all trade possibilities should be on the table, including players with years of club control remaining. Are the Orioles really going to be back in contention by the time Kevin Gausman (post-2020), Dylan Bundy (post-2021), and Mychal Givens (post-2021) hit free agency?

Comments (0)

britton

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

Crunch time rapidly approaching for Orioles’ free-agent-to-be trade chips

Posted on 26 June 2018 by Luke Jones

At a time when pennant races are still taking shape and a number of teams are still determining whether they’re contenders or pretenders or buyers or sellers, the clock has long been ticking for the Orioles.

The objective is obvious with the only question related to the standings now being whether Baltimore can regroup enough to avoid its first 100-loss season in 30 years. On Tuesday, the non-waiver trade deadline will be exactly five weeks away, and the Orioles have yet to move a single trade chip.

Crunch time is rapidly approaching.

We can debate how extensive the expected rebuild should be and which players under club control beyond 2018 should also be on the table, but every pending free agent on the roster should be on the move for anything resembling a reasonable return in the coming weeks. Anything less torpedoes the Orioles further into the abyss they’re already facing.

Below is a look at where each of their pending free agents stands a little over a month before the deadline:

SS Manny Machado
2018 salary: $16 million

What to like: The 25-year-old is having a career year at the plate and is a top 10 offensive player in baseball, making him a very attractive addition to any contender aiming to upgrade the left side of its infield or to add a premium bat to the lineup. He’s on pace to set career bests in home runs, runs batted in, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walk rate, and strikeout rate.

What not to like: The eyeball test on Machado playing shortstop has been iffy, and the defensive metrics are even worse as he ranks last among major league shortstops in defensive runs saved. This will likely be a bigger topic of discussion for his free agency, but any contender coveting his bat will need to acknowledge that he doesn’t offer the same defensive value at his new position as he did at third base.

Outlook: Teams value young players and prospects more than ever, so expecting a lucrative return for a rental — even one as great as Machado — is unrealistic. However, the Orioles should still be able to fetch some good pieces for the best player available on the market. Several teams will be interested, but Baltimore must be careful not to play its hand too strongly as it wouldn’t be the first time other clubs could grow tired of glacial-pace negotiations and indecisiveness. The organization can’t afford to mess this up more than it already has by not dealing him sooner or signing him to a long-term extension.

CF Adam Jones
2018 salary: $17.333 million

What to like: The 32-year-old is on pace to eclipse the 20-homer mark for the eighth consecutive season and enters Tuesday’s action hitting .290, which would be the highest mark of his career. A clubhouse leader with an above-average bat and playoff experience would be valuable to an ascending club making its first run at a playoff spot or looking to get to the next level.

What not to like: His defense has been debated for years, but the time has come for Jones to move to a corner outfield spot as he ranks next to last among major league center fielders in defensive runs saved and doesn’t cover enough ground anymore. His 2.8 percent walk rate is the second lowest of his career and his .320 batting average on balls in play suggest some regression at the plate the rest of the way.

Outlook: More than with any other potential chip, Jones should be handled delicately as he has meant so much to this city over the last decade and holds a full no-trade clause as a 10-and-5 player. The five-time All-Star selection deserves to play for a contender if he wishes, but his remaining salary and defensive concerns could be sticking points for potential suitors. There should be a reasonable deal out there that can fetch the Orioles a piece or two and provide Jones a chance to win a World Series, but open communication will be key here and that’s not a strength of the organization.

LHP Zach Britton
2018 salary: $12 million

What to like: Britton is only two years removed from arguably the greatest season ever for a relief pitcher and remains a premium commodity as a hard-throwing left-handed reliever. His 136 saves entering Tuesday’s action should look appealing to any contender looking for a closer or to add an experienced ninth-inning arm as part of a committee approach dictated by matchups.

What not to like: Coming back from the torn Achilles tendon is one thing, but Britton’s average fastball velocity (93.8 miles per hour) is down more than two miles per hour from 2017 (96.1) when he dealt with a forearm issue for a large chunk of the season. He’s also issued nearly a walk per inning since making his 2018 season debut two weeks ago.

Outlook: You hate to draw too many conclusions based on Britton’s first seven appearances of 2018, but a small sample size is all you have to go on with the deadline a little over a month away and you’re discussing a pitcher who’s missed sizable portions of the last two seasons. When you match that with his hefty salary, the Orioles need to see Britton get on a hot streak over the next few weeks to increase his trade value from anything more than a salary dump or a middling minor-leaguer or two. The Orioles really missed the boat not cashing in on what was some great value two winters ago.

RHP Brad Brach
2018 salary: $5.165 million

What to like: The right-hander is averaging just under 10 strikeouts per nine innings and is only two years removed from his 2016 All-Star campaign in which he posted a tiny 2.05 ERA. Brach has also converted 26 saves over the last two seasons filling in for Britton.

What not to like: The 32-year-old is averaging five walks per nine innings and has posted an ordinary 3.86 ERA in his first 32 appearances of the 2018 season. Even when he’s put zeroes on the scoreboard, the outings have been shaky as he’s posted a career-worst 1.75 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched).

Outlook: There figures to be no shortage of right-handed relievers available at the deadline, making you wonder how much Brach can improve his value between now and the end of July. There should be a taker or two for his services, but this is another situation in which the Orioles didn’t sell high and are now looking at a deal more closely resembling a salary dump than anything of great value in return.

INF Danny Valencia
2018 salary: $1.2 million

What to like: Valencia has been one of the few bright spots of 2018 with a solid .280 average and .791 on-base plus slugging percentage and has played more than anticipated because of injuries. Long considered a platoon bat against left-handed pitchers, the 33-year-old has hit right-handers just as effectively.

What not to like: Even with his balanced splits this season, Valencia remains below average defensively and ideally serves as a designated hitter or first baseman, limiting his appeal to contenders.

Outlook: Tim Beckham’s return figures to limit opportunities for Valencia, which isn’t ideal when you have thoughts of moving him in a trade. His affordable salary and consistency at the plate this season could fetch the Orioles something, but this isn’t a trade commodity that’s moving the meter in any way.

Other pending free agents: OF Colby Rasmus, OF Craig Gentry, SP Chris Tillman
Outlook: These three are more likely to be designated for assignment than to find any club interested in their services the rest of the way.

Comments Off on Crunch time rapidly approaching for Orioles’ free-agent-to-be trade chips

#DearOrioles

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

Letting The Warehouse know via #DearOrioles letters that those empty seats are still out here

Posted on 25 June 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

I’VE THOUGHT LONG AND HARD about how I can best shine a light on the significance of the Baltimore Orioles to our city and community in this summer of baseball darkness.

In my hopes of one day becoming a “man of letters” – and in my old-fashioned newspaper columnist way and sans a legitimate press credential that was taken from me 12 years ago after 21 years of covering the baseball team – I’ve decided that the best thing I can do short of delivering a personal message to any of them face to face is write personal notes to all of them. So between now and whenever this mess is dismantled or disintegrates, they’ll all be getting very public and personal letters from me on the way out the door. And for those who are remaining – and most of those are named “Angelos” – I’ll continue to challenge them to answer to the fans, the stakeholders and the community in this tender time in Orioles history.

I’ll ask them all: “What does your future hold? What will your legacy be?”

It’s what John Steadman would do.

You can read them at the hashtag #DearOrioles. I’m hoping folks in the community will write their own #DearOrioles questions, concerns and memos.

This is the 25th summer Peter G. Angelos has owned the Orioles. It is my 27th year of doing sports radio and media in Baltimore. On August 3rd, WNST will celebrate its 20th year serving local sports fans the truth about the teams and the people who create, host and benefit from the games our community has supported with massive tax breaks, stadium erections and credit card insertions.

I was here doing this Baltimore sports media thing long before anyone outside of Bethlehem Steel ever knew the name of Peter G. Angelos – back in the spring and summer of 1993 when he created chaos and somehow usurped control of the franchise away from Bill DeWitt and Larry Lucchino. I wrote about that last summer in The Peter Principles. You can also find the audio read in the Buy A Toyota Audio Vault.

By my count, there have been five summers of relevance under his quarter of a century of involvement. In baseball parlance, that’s batting .200 ­–­ or 50 points higher than the guy they owe $130 million ill-fated dollars to over the next 20 years. By my count, he’s pocketed in excess of $1 billion in profit over the past 15 years, primarily due to a “get out of debt free” deal with Major League Baseball to bring a team to Washington, D.C. and allowing Angelos a spigot to print cable television money via MASN.

Peter G. Angelos and his heirs have been big winners in the Baltimore baseball game. Big with a capital “B” as in billions.

Meanwhile, fans of the Baltimore Orioles and vested community members have consistently been the losers in the baseball game. And the promises that William Donald Schaefer made with Edward Bennett Williams before his death about Camden Yards and a downtown stadium and the emotional and/or economic benefits it would provide for our city and community have all but evaporated.

I’m the guy who did Free The Birds back in September 2006 in an attempt to hold Angelos accountable and publicly discuss the issues surrounding a deserted downtown on game nights. It appears as though I’ve now lived long enough to arrive at holding the next “person of influence” with the Orioles accountable as well.

I pray that the next “caretaker” actually takes care of it because it’s in desperate need of some TLC. There are whispers that the franchise is in jeopardy of leaving Baltimore.

Can you imagine Peter G. Angelos being around to negotiate a long-term lease for Camden Yards and the threats that would come?

I’ve built my life and company and business and personal brand around local sports and the baseball franchise – for better or worse. My childhood love of the Baltimore Orioles is deep and well told. I’ve always loved the team. I live here. I moved downtown in 2003 to attend Orioles games. I wrote about it over 19 chapters of history in 2006 when I did the #FreeTheBirds walkout to shine a light on the horrific ownership and the lack of accountability. I’m no #Nestordamus, but I can say that I very clearly predicted the demise of the brand given the

Comments (1)

britton

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Britton’s return, Machado’s absence bring Orioles’ expected sell-off into focus

Posted on 11 June 2018 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles cleared the final real hurdle for their anticipated sell-off with the activation of two-time All-Star closer Zach Britton from the disabled list on Monday.

There are no more excuses for waiting to dive into the trade market with the deadline now seven weeks away.

The Memorial Day checkpoint came and went two weeks ago with Baltimore hopelessly in last place. The amateur draft is in the books, removing that important task from the ledger. And now Britton has returned less than six months after tearing his right Achilles tendon, giving him several weeks to rebuild his trade value that’s taken a hit over the last 14 months because of injuries.

Opposing scouts were already watching the left-hander during his five-game minor-league rehab assignment, which concluded with a 1.69 ERA and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. The Orioles now hope Britton resembles the closer who recorded 120 saves and a 1.38 ERA from 2014-2016 to make him that much more attractive to contending clubs aiming to bolster their bullpen.

“Every time I get the ball, pitch well and help the team,” said Britton, who’s trying his best not to view his return as an audition for other teams. “Regardless of our standing or the trade discussions, the mindset’s just going to be to go out there and pitch well.”

Manager Buck Showalter said he’d prefer not throwing Britton into a save situation immediately, but the organization knows opposing teams will want to see how he handles high-leverage situations sooner than later. Pitching effectively in minor-league games was an important step, but there’s no simulating the pressure and adrenaline of the ninth inning of a major league game. Hopefully the reeling Orioles can scrounge together enough save chances to help him further prove his worth over the next few weeks.

Britton’s return coincided with the absence of shortstop Manny Machado, who was out for the series opener against Boston due to illness. Machado not being in the lineup for the first time all season initially sparked fan chatter about a potential trade before Showalter confirmed the star infielder was dealing with the same bug that sidelined third baseman Danny Valencia in Toronto on Sunday.

Not seeing Machado batting third and playing shortstop Monday previewed the reality the Orioles are facing at some point in the near future.

“I’d be less than frank if I said that I hadn’t already thought about that,” Showalter said. “You should’ve already thought about it. You should think about all guys. If somebody’s hurt, what’s your ‘what if?’ There’s not anybody on the horizon or maybe in baseball that’s a ‘what if’ that’s available like Manny. I don’t need a reminder of watching it tonight.”

Entering Monday 26 games below .500 and 24 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East, the Orioles imagining how much worse it could get without their best player isn’t pleasant to say the least.

But it will be their reality all too soon.

Comments Off on Britton’s return, Machado’s absence bring Orioles’ expected sell-off into focus

harvey

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Orioles receive mixed bag of pitching news

Posted on 09 June 2018 by Luke Jones

The start of the weekend brought good and bad news for the Orioles on the pitching front.

The organization came to terms with 2018 first-round pitcher Grayson Rodriguez on Friday, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The Texas high school right-hander will receive a $4.3 million signing bonus, which is just under the slot value for the 11th overall pick of this year’s draft.

But that positive development was paired with the revelation that top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey has been shut down with right shoulder soreness. Manager Buck Showalter confirmed after Friday’s loss in Toronto that the injury did not occur from the 23-year-old pitching, lending credence to The Sun’s report that Harvey’s shoulder popped out of socket while he tried to avoid a line drive in the Double-A Bowie dugout. It’s unclear how much time the 2013 first-round pick will miss.

In 32 1/3 innings this season, Harvey is 1-2 with a 5.57 ERA and is striking out 8.4 and walking 2.5 batters per nine innings.

As expected, Baltimore has activated right-handed relief pitcher Darren O’Day from the disabled list. The 35-year-old had been on the DL with a hyperextended right elbow since May 9 and owns a 3.77 ERA in 14 1/3 innings in 2018.

To make room on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned hard-throwing lefty Tanner Scott to Triple-A Norfolk. The 23-year-old rookie sports an underwhelming 4.96 ERA in 16 1/3 innings for Baltimore this season, but he’s averaged 12.7 strikeouts compared to 3.3 walks per nine innings, representing a rare bright spot for the club this season.

Closer Zach Britton could be activated from the DL as soon as Monday after completing back-to-back outings for Norfolk. The two-time All-Star selection tore his right Achilles tendon in December, but he’s allowed one earned run and has struck out six in the first 5 1/3 innings of his minor-league rehab assignment.

Comments Off on Orioles receive mixed bag of pitching news

buck

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ten painful Orioles numbers entering month of June

Posted on 01 June 2018 by Luke Jones

If the Orioles holding a 17-39 record and being 21 1/2 games out of first place didn’t depress you enough, below are 10 painful numbers entering the month of June:

3 – Number of winning months the Orioles have had since June 2016. Sure, the bottom fell out of a fun five-year run last September, but this club has been mediocre to bad for the better part of two years now.

3.73 — Runs scored per game to rank last in the American League. Only Miami has scored fewer per contest than an Orioles offense that was at least once feared despite its inconsistency over the years.

5.45 — Starter ERA, which ranks 28th in baseball. It’s better than last season’s 5.70 mark, but fewer runs are being scored across the majors so far in 2018, making this “improvement” even less impressive.

Minus-45 — Baltimore’s defensive runs saved total, which is last in the majors. Yes, 2014 feels like a very long time ago and the metrics match what your eyes are seeing in the field most nights.

93 — AL-high number of walks from the bullpen. The absences of Zach Britton and Darren O’Day have been tough, but not being able to throw strikes has led to a reliever ERA of 4.30, 21st in baseball.

.825 — Opposing on-base plus slugging percentage, highest in the majors. Manny Machado is the only Orioles hitter with a better OPS than what opponents are collectively doing against Baltimore pitchers.

7 — Number of wins in 30 road games. Washington has six road victories in the last week alone.

70 — How many more strikeouts the Orioles have than hits. This is a continuing trend around baseball, but being on pace to strike out 200 more times than your number of base hits is, well, something.

160 — Number of qualified major leaguers with a higher slugging percentage than Chris Davis’ .244, which ranks ahead of only Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun (.179). This is a decline of historic proportions.

0 — Number of meaningful changes or statements from ownership signaling how disastrous this season has been. Is there anybody out there?

Comments Off on Ten painful Orioles numbers entering month of June

machado

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

Twelve Orioles thoughts ahead of West Coast road trip

Posted on 30 April 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles coming off just their second series win of the season, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Dan Duquette said Friday it was a little early” to be talking selling, which is fine considering potential contenders are still evaluating their own rosters. But what’s the Angelos family’s plan? Will Duquette — with his expiring contract — orchestrate trades? Brady Anderson? A new hire? The clock is ticking loudly now.

2. Manny Machado entered Monday leading the majors with a .361 average and his home run, walk, and strikeout rates are career highs thus far. An MVP-caliber start helps his trade value, but failing to re-sign him or secure the optimal return value has been organizational malpractice.

3. Many expected the final two or three years of the Chris Davis deal to be ugly, but Buck Showalter’s comments on Sunday spoke volumes about this nightmare. For context, he’ll remain under contract as long as the just-drafted Lamar Jackson — assuming the Ravens exercise his fifth-year option.

4. Pedro Alvarez being pushed into last-second duty Sunday and hitting two homers was impressive on Sunday. He leads the club in both homer rate (8.6 percent of plate appearances) and walk rate (15.7 percent). Give him credit after playing most of last season at Triple-A Norfolk.

5. Mark Trumbo’s activation in Anaheim will give the Orioles a fifth player on the roster — Davis, Alvarez, Trey Mancini, and Danny Valencia the others — whose best role would be as the designated hitter or first baseman. Trumbo playing right field certainly isn’t going to help a below-average defense.

6. The suggestion of Richard Bleier closing out Sunday’s win would have been crazy even at the beginning of the season, but the fact that some were clamoring for him reflects how terrific he’s been. He’s second on the club behind Machado in wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference.

7. Orioles catchers have struck out in 36.7 percent of their plate appearances so far this season. I support Chance Sisco playing over Caleb Joseph at this point, but he’s striking out two out of every five times at the plate. That must improve sooner than later.

8. Zach Britton is moving closer to potentially returning in early June, a remarkable recovery from his torn Achilles tendon. Perhaps that’ll be enough time for the former All-Star closer to build enough trade value, but a two-year deal this winter could have made a lot of sense for both sides.

9. This was the first home series win since last August. The Orioles have gone 15-42 since then and are 61-97 since their 22-10 start last season. To recover enough to win 85 games, they’d have to play like a 93-win team the rest of the way. Cue Lloyd Christmas.

10. The Orioles and Kansas City are both in the basement of their respective divisions less than four years after meeting in the American League Championship Series. That feels like a really long time ago, but at least the Royals can take solace in having won a World Series.

11. I’m not sure how many were preparing to stay up late to watch a last-place team on the West Coast this week, but I was disappointed to see Shohei Ohtani’s scheduled Tuesday start pushed back to the weekend after last week’s ankle sprain. His story is incredible.

12. Sunday was the 30th anniversary of the Orioles snapping their historic 0-21 start to begin the 1988 season. I recommend this look back as well as this MLB Network package chronicling that incomprehensible record. The 2018 Orioles are five games better than that club through 28 games.

Comments (1)

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 5.26.02 PM

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

Twelve Orioles thoughts following 7-3 loss to Cleveland

Posted on 22 April 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles continuing their struggles in a 7-3 loss to Cleveland, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. After a 3-for-4 performance that included two home runs, Manny Machado is slugging .713, which is higher than the on-base plus slugging percentage of every other member of Sunday’s lineup except for Pedro Alvarez. He’s doing his best to try to carry an inept offense so far.

2. It’s difficult to recall the Orioles starting a less impressive bottom third of the batting order than Anthony Santander, Caleb Joseph, and Luis Sardinas. Of course, the fifth and sixth spots — Chris Davis and Tim Beckham — haven’t been much better.

3. Opponents entered Sunday 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position against Andrew Cashner, but we witnessed a market correction as he allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings. I’ll still gladly take his 3.60 ERA through his first five starts.

4. Cashner was strong through his first three innings before laboring mightily the second and third times through the order. However, his strikeout numbers continue to be surprising as he recorded seven over his six frames.

5. He received an assist from the strategy to have Rajai Davis bunt with runners on first and second and no outs in the third after Sardinas had just made an error. I understand Cleveland has struggled offensively, but that helped short-circuit a major threat so early in the game.

6. The Orioles struck out only once through the first six innings against two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, but that allowed him to keep his pitch count at a reasonable 74. They weren’t hitting the ball particularly hard despite him lacking his typical swing-and-miss stuff.

7. Normally you’d admire Santander forcing Kluber to throw 12 pitches in a seventh-inning strikeout that drove up his pitch count, but that merely paved the way for Andrew Miller to enter in the eighth. Pick your poison.

8. Speaking of Miller, Sardinas striking out on four pitches in the eighth was as predictable as it gets. I suppose that’s the joy of having a two-man bench over the weekend with Trey Mancini temporarily sidelined.

9. Brad Brach needed to keep the deficit at one and give Manny Machado a chance to tie it in the ninth, but he was tagged for three runs. His 5.19 ERA and Mychal Givens’ 5.91 mark haven’t given the bullpen a chance to stay afloat without Zach Britton.

10. The Orioles entered Sunday last in the majors at minus-14 defensive runs saved. The defense may not have factored too heavily into this loss, but it continues to be difficult to watch.

11. Mark Trumbo will resume his minor-league rehab assignment Monday, but he’ll need to stack some at-bats after missing so much action dating back to early March. Meanwhile, Pedro Alvarez has seen his average fall to .214 after going 0-for-11 over the first three games of the Indians series.

12. This is the fifth-fastest Orioles club to fall 10 games below .500 and is tied for the third-worst start in franchise history after 22 games with only the 1988 Orioles (1-21) and the 2010 team (4-18) being worse. At least they have 140 games to turn it around, right? Right?

Comments Off on Twelve Orioles thoughts following 7-3 loss to Cleveland

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 10.40.36 PM

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

Twelve Orioles thoughts following 5-2 win over Yankees

Posted on 06 April 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles snapping their five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The five runs plated in the seventh inning exceeded the club’s total in five of its first six games and came after the Orioles had only one baserunner in the previous five frames. It was a brutal opening week, but that was a good stop-the-bleeding win to begin the series.

2. After Orioles pitching surrendered an inexplicable 102 runs in 10 games at Yankee Stadium last season, Andrew Cashner set the tone with six strong innings as an Aaron Judge solo homer was the only blemish. It was the first quality start of the season from someone not named Dylan Bundy.

3. Cashner used five pitches effectively with his slider and changeup standing out in key spots. His declining strikeout rate was a major topic when he signed, but he’s struck out 10 in 11 innings. You’ll take that outing against the Yankees lineup any day of the week.

4. Adam Jones continued his hot start to the season with the big two-run homer off Masahiro Tanaka to give the Orioles the lead in the seventh. All three of his long balls in 2018 have given Baltimore a lead in the sixth inning or later.

5. Trey Mancini responded favorably to the leadoff spot with three hits, including a two-run single to right off Chad Green to extend the lead to 5-1. In a perfect world, you’d like to keep Mancini in more of a run-producing spot, but he’s the man for the job right now.

6. It was a cold night in the Bronx and Tanaka pitched well over the first six innings, but the Yankees starter still threw some hittable pitches that went unharmed until the seventh. Opposing pitchers continue to give Orioles hitters a heavy diet of off-speed and breaking stuff.

7. A bullpen that’s already carrying two Rule 5 picks and trying to survive without All-Star closer Zach Britton can hardly afford to have Mychal Givens struggling. The right-hander has now been scored upon in each of his last two outings to put further strain on the bullpen.

8. After cleaning up Givens’ mess in the seventh, Darren O’Day found trouble of his own an inning later by issuing a walk and hitting two batters before escaping unscathed. He sure seems to love pitching with the bases loaded, doesn’t he?

9. Brad Brach issued a walk before striking out Brandon Drury and Brett Gardner to collect the save. I do have reservations about Brach as a closer, but some of the reaction to his blown save on Opening Day was over the top. No current options are going to be Britton.

10. Chris Davis collected his second hit of the season in his final at-bat, but he looks lost at the plate right now. You expect him to strike out and to even be victimized by the shift, but he’s not making any hard contact, hitting a slew of weak grounders.

11. Colby Rasmus singled as part of the five-run seventh, but he’s looked as lost as Davis, striking out 11 times in 20 plate appearances. Rule 5 outfielder Anthony Santander did deliver an RBI double, but the Orioles need to start getting something from their veteran left-handed bats.

12. Before going hitless with two strikeouts, Manny Machado reiterated his desire to play shortstop beyond 2018 and took a dig at the New York media about the Aaron Judge tampering controversy. He’s not wrong, but I’m not sure that’s the best idea if he envisions wearing Yankee pinstripes.

Comments Off on Twelve Orioles thoughts following 5-2 win over Yankees

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 12.06.28 AM

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

Rule 5 obsession again hurting Orioles’ chances to win

Posted on 04 April 2018 by Luke Jones

The Orioles do this to themselves.

Year after year, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette champions the Rule 5 draft as a cheap way of acquiring young prospects. It sounds fine in theory in December and we hear the encouraging reviews of these players during spring training, but the Orioles inevitably find themselves in predicaments in which both their roster and their ability to compete are compromised during the season.

And for what?

The greatest Rule 5 success story of the Duquette era has been Ryan Flaherty, a versatile utility man who was worth a total of 1.6 wins above replacement over his six seasons with Baltimore. Carrying a position player has proven to be easier as the Orioles were able to qualify for the playoffs with Flaherty in 2012 and outfielder Joey Rickard in 2016, but does the upside of a Rule 5 pick really justify the roster headaches?

Was it worth it having T.J. McFarland hamstring the bullpen in 2013 and Jason Garcia clogging it up in 2015? McFarland at least made some useful contributions as a long reliever in 2014, but Garcia was never heard from again as he struggled at Double-A Bowie the following two years. Neither is with the organization anymore.

That brings us to the present with the Orioles not only trying to satisfy the remainder of outfielder Anthony Santander’s Rule 5 requirement from last season, but they’re currently carrying two Rule 5 pitchers in their bullpen.

Two.

A club that sported the worst starter ERA in the majors in 2017 and one that is without two-time All-Star closer Zach Britton for at least the first two months of the season thinks it’s a good idea to carry two pitchers who have little business being in the major leagues right now. And it took all of five games for this bizarre Rule 5 fascination to cost the Orioles a potential win.

Manager Buck Showalter shouldn’t be absolved for his decision-making in Tuesday’s 10-6 loss in Houston as he could have avoided using both Miguel Castro and Richard Bleier in Monday’s 6-1 defeat, but that only delays the inevitable as this type of scenario would have played out at some point very soon. When starters consistently fail to pitch deep into games, you’re not going to survive with what amounts to a five-man bullpen. Whether it was Tuesday night, Wednesday afternoon, or next week, Pedro Araujo and Nestor Cortes were going to find themselves pitching in a game with the outcome still in doubt.

Trying to hide one Rule 5 pick in the bullpen is difficult enough, but carrying two eliminates any margin for error as we saw when Mychal Givens allowed the go-ahead two-run home run to Josh Reddick in the sixth inning. Showalter removing starter Mike Wright was the right call after he’d given the Orioles a solid five innings and 82 pitches in his first competitive outing since March 22. Regardless of the result, you’d rather see Givens against the heart of the Astros order rather than Wright facing it a third time.

The likely plan was for Givens to pitch the sixth and seventh before turning to Darren O’Day and Brad Brach for the final two innings. Instead Givens’ struggles opened the door for both Araujo and Cortes to put the game out of reach. One could still argue using O’Day or Brach for the seventh inning, but Showalter has always been reluctant to use his top arms when the Orioles are trailing and such a strategy would have merely pushed the bullpen shortage to the following day.

You just aren’t going to win with starters pitching only four or five innings and backing them up with only five relievers you trust. The math simply won’t add up as the cumulative impact of needing to cover 13 innings in the previous three blowout losses put the Orioles in bad position on Tuesday. Again, Showalter could have handled his bullpen differently the last two nights, but Araujo and Cortes are going to have to pitch when it matters from time to time if they’re to remain on the 25-man roster.

And that’s the major problem.

The Orioles deserve praise for stepping up to sign starting pitcher Alex Cobb in late March, but you can’t say you’re truly all in on 2018 with two Rule 5 picks straining your bullpen while you’re already trying to survive the absence of your best reliever. Such a path comes across as trying to prove you’re smarter than everyone else rather than doing what it takes to win.

And history suggests the long-term payoff with both Araujo and Cortes won’t be worth it anyway.

Comments (1)