Tag Archive | "nate mclouth"

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Orioles decline Casilla’s 2014 option, pass on making qualifying offers to free agents

Posted on 05 November 2013 by WNST Staff

Already in the process of shaping their 2014 roster, the Orioles made several decisions regarding their own free agents on Monday.

The club declined a $3 million option for the 2014 season in infielder Alexi Casilla’s contract, making him a free agent after a $200,000 buyout. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette also passed on making one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offers in 2014 for free agents Brian Roberts, Jason Hammel, and Nate McLouth.

Seven players on the 2013 Orioles declared for free agency following the World Series: Roberts, Hammel, McLouth, right-handed pitchers Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez, outfielder Michael Morse, and catcher Chris Snyder. The Orioles have expressed interest in retaining some of their own free agents, but no formal discussions have taken place.

The Orioles also added 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Chris Jones to their 40-man roster and reinstated third baseman Manny Machado (knee surgery) and outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck surgery) to the 40-man roster after each finished the 2013 season on the 60-day disabled list.

With Reimold eligible for arbitration, the Orioles could forgo tendering him a contract and attempt to re-sign him as a non-roster invitee who would not take a spot on the 40-man roster.

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Markakis moves into top 3 among AL outfielders in All-Star voting

Posted on 15 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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The Orioles may be trailing the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but they’re dominating the entire league when it comes to voting for Major League Baseball’s 84th All-Star Game.

The latest voting update has four Orioles players who would find themselves in the startling lineup for the 84th edition of the exhibition as first baseman Chris Davis, outfielder Adam Jones, and shortstop J.J. Hardy are leading the league in voting at their respective positions. Joining them as a projected starter would be eighth-year veteran Nick Markakis, who ranks third among AL outfielders behind Jones and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Markakis has never been selected to an All-Star Game.

Catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado rank second in voting at their respective positions and outfielder Nate McLouth ranks seventh among AL outfielders.

Davis has the second-highest vote total of any AL player behind Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has a lead of over 1.6 million votes over Machado.

Last year, the Orioles sent three players to the Midsummer Classic (Jones, Wieters, and closer Jim Johnson), marking the first time they’d had multiple selection in an All-Star Game since 2005 when Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora, and B.J. Ryan were all selected to play.

In-stadium voting concludes on June 28, but fans may vote online through July 4. The All-Star teams will be unveiled on July 7 with the game itself scheduled for July 16 at Citi Field.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR VOTING
(as of June 15)

FIRST BASE
Chris Davis, Orioles 2,999,094
Prince Fielder, Tigers 1,980,129
Mike Napoli, Red Sox 744,334
Albert Pujols, Angels 693,062
Mitch Moreland, Rangers 645,071

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Yankees 2,409,512
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 1,635,674
Ian Kinsler, Rangers 1,123,654
Omar Infante, Tigers 872,142
Jose Altuve, Astros 734,896

SHORTSTOP
J.J. Hardy, Orioles 1,871,010
Elvis Andrus, Rangers 1,358,412
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers 1,322,791
Jed Lowrie, Athletics 1,019,861
Derek Jeter, Yankees 669,698

THIRD BASE
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 3,277,890
Manny Machado, Orioles 1,626,209
Adrian Beltre, Rangers 1,105,706
Evan Longoria, Rays 898,422
Josh Donaldson, J. Athletics 500,773

CATCHER
Joe Mauer, Twins 2,127,175
Matt Wieters, Orioles 1,615,625
A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers 885,137
Carlos Santana, Indians 864,779
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox 748,725

DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz, Red Sox 2,488,451
Lance Berkman, Rangers 1,239,521
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays 769,322
Mark Reynolds, Indians 745,058
Mark Trumbo, Angels 722,667

OUTFIELD
Adam Jones, Orioles 2,740,505
Mike Trout, Angels 2,710,115
Nick Markakis, Orioles 1,463,392
Torii Hunter, Tigers 1,425,571
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 1,379,251
Nelson Cruz, Rangers 1,310,079
Nate McLouth, Orioles 1,300,158
Alex Gordon, Royals 1,040,685
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox 1,004,434
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics 926,611
Coco Crisp, Athletics 869,153
Josh Hamilton, Angels 726,485
Austin Jackson, Tigers 712,623
Shane Victorino, Red Sox 682,220
Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees 620,734

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Showalter not crazy about Davis’ Bo Jackson impersonation

Posted on 17 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With Tampa Bay lefty Matt Moore taking the hill against the Orioles on Wednesday night, manager Buck Showalter has altered his regular lineup in the second game of the series.

Switch-hitter Alexi Casilla will start at second base instead of Ryan Flaherty, but Nate McLouth will remain in left field in lieu of Steve Pearce earning the start as the designated hitter and Nolan Reimold moving to the outfield. In a small sample size of just two starts, Moore has actually allowed more hits to lefty bats (2-for-11) than right-handed hitters (1-for-24) and can struggle with his command against left-handed hitters. In his brief career that began in 2011, Moore is allowing right-handers to bat .229 while lefties are .238 against him.

Moore hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11 1/3 innings this season, but the 23-year-old has also walked eight batters, including six in his last start against Texas. Patience will be the theme for the approach at the plate for Orioles hitters.

With the Orioles schedule to face left-handed starters in each of the next two games following Wednesday’s tilt, Showalter didn’t want McLouth to sit for an extended period but said Pearce will be in the starting lineup on Thursday against Rays ace David Price. However, Casilla figures to see action in each of the next three games with Flaherty off to a 2-for-28 start this season.

Pitchers Steve Johnson and Tsuyoshi Wada will each throw in Sarasota on Thursday with the former expected to join a minor-league club on either a rehab assignment or an option if all goes well. The right-hander will throw four innings while Wada will toss three as he continues to make his way back from last year’s Tommy John surgery.

Despite rumors of the Orioles being interested in Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon, the 27-year-old was place on waivers this afternoon as Texas’ asking price was apparently too steep. The left-handed hitting outfielder provides good speed, but he wouldn’t appear to be a dramatic upgrade over current reserve Chris Dickerson, making it unsurprising that the Orioles weren’t willing to meet the Rangers’ demand.

Now, we’ll wait to see if the Orioles put in a claim and, more importantly, are successful in acquiring him.

The struggles of reliever Pedro Strop were also a topic of discussion prior to the second game of the series. Showalter was quick to remind everyone how successful the right-handed power arm was prior to his late-season struggles a year ago.

Strop allowed two home runs in the eighth inning and is sporting a 10.80 earned run average in six appearances covering five innings. Of course, the Orioles were forced to use five relievers with starter Jake Arrieta lasting only five innings in the series opener.

“I think he’s going to do some good things for us this year,” said Showalter, who noted that Strop hadn’t pitched since Friday and wanted to give him some work. “He already has. He’s gotten some big outs already; last night wasn’t one of them. It was a pretty long chain there because we only got five innings out of our starter.”

Showalter was asked about Tuesday’s incident in which first baseman Chris Davis broke his bat over his knee after striking out, which instantly became an internet hit. The Baltimore manager clearly didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but Showalter didn’t sound as though he wanted to see a repeat performance of the move Bo Jackson made famous in the 1980s.

“I’d just like to be able to do it myself,” said Showalter before answering more seriously. “What are you going to do? It’s risky. I think I’d be more inclined [to say], ‘Let’s do something that kept us from being that mad. Maybe you can take that pitch.’ He’s not the first guy or the last guy [to do it].”

Regardless of Showalter’s feelings, here’s another look at Davis’ bat-break, courtesy of Cork Gaines:

Here are Wednesday’s lineups…

BALTIMORE
RF Nick Markakis
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Nate McLouth
DH Nolan Reimold
2B Alexi Casilla

SP Chris Tillman (0-0, 7.00 ERA)

TAMPA BAY
CF Desmond Jennings
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
LF Matt Joyce
DH Shelley Duncan
1B James Loney
C Jose Molina
SS Yunel Escobar

SP Matt Moore (2-0, 0.00 ERA)

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Orioles embrace underdog role like few teams ever have

Posted on 06 October 2012 by Luke Jones

You’d think we would have learned our lesson after 162 games, but the Orioles opened our eyes once again on Friday night.

With few giving them a chance after a deflating series at Tampa Bay that forced them to go to Arlington for the first ever wild card play-in game, the Orioles knocked off the Texas Rangers to advance to the American League Division Series.

We assumed the task was too much for the Orioles to top the two-time defending American League champions after they went 2-5 against the Rangers and were outscored 56-24 in the season series. It didn’t matter that Texas had lost nine of its last 13 games or that Baltimore held the best road record in the American League. The epitaphs had already been written and recited by many over the last two days leading up to Friday’s first pitch.

Manager Buck Showalter’s decision to give the ball to left-hander Joe Saunders was met with more than a few raised eyebrows considering the soft-tossing veteran was 0-6 with a 9.38 earned run average in six career starts at Rangers Ballpark before Friday night. Even those defending the decision assumed a brief outing for Saunders before a 10-man bullpen would match up the rest of the way.

The middle-of-the-road starter couldn’t possibly contain the powerful Rangers bats, could he?

Saunders did just that, using effective off-speed stuff to pitch 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball before turning it over to the bullpen, the group most responsible for landing the Orioles in the postseason for the first time since 1997.

Arguably the player of the game, reliever Darren O’Day was brilliant over two innings of work to bridge the gap to the late innings. New lefty specialist Brian Matusz blew away Josh Hamilton on three pitches to end the eighth with the slugger representing the tying run. And, finally, Jim Johnson closed the door on the Rangers’ season and sent the Orioles back to Baltimore for the ALDS.

The Baltimore bats were far from fertile but did just enough against Texas starter Yu Darvish to give Saunders and the bullpen a slim lead.

Left fielder Nate McLouth drove in two runs and scored another to lead the offensive attack, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones each knocked in one, and rookie Manny Machado tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth with a run-scoring single.

And as McLouth squeezed the final out in left to seal a 5-1 win, there was Showalter watching from the dugout as his players celebrated their unlikeliest feat to date in a season full of head-shaking wonder. At this point, you wonder just how unlikely the Orioles viewed it as they didn’t blink in a place that’s been a house of horror for them in recent years.

Why do we still doubt them?

The response was lukewarm in late August when executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette brought Saunders to Baltimore in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom. It wasn’t the impact move for a starting pitcher the Orioles desperately needed to push the Orioles over the hump in their playoff push.

Considered washed up and simply hoping for another chance in the big leagues while playing for Triple-A Norfolk only two months ago, McLouth was summoned to Baltimore as many laughed and rolled their eyes. Those same people then cringed when the thumb injury to Nick Markakis forced him to assume the leadoff spot duties.

Critics said 20-year-old Manny Machado wasn’t ready for the big leagues and certainly couldn’t handle playing third base after playing only two games at the position in his brief minor league career.

O’Day was a castoff from the Rangers who many thought didn’t even deserve a roster spot at the start of the season after being injured for much of spring training. Matusz endured one of the worst seasons in major league history a year ago and was demoted again earlier this season before ultimately being sent to the bullpen.

Yet, the moves worked and those individuals figured heavily into the Orioles’ first postseason win since 1997.

While I wondered if the Rangers could get off the mat after collapsing in the final two weeks of the regular season and losing their grasp on the AL West title, the Orioles emphatically delivered the knockout blow to their 2012 season. Perhaps the Rangers were the better team and would have prevailed in a longer season, but the Orioles were the better team on Friday and that’s all that matters.

Yes, this perfect group of imperfect players comprised of holdovers used to losing, career minor leaguers, has-beens, never-will-bes, and baby-faced rookies may look like a jumbled mess of individual parts, but the unconventional concoction made by Showalter and Duquette is now 11 wins away from a World Series title.

Suggesting that possibility still sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? I thought so.

They’ll undoubtedly be tabbed as the underdogs against the AL East champion Yankees, a team they tied 9-9 in the season series.

But that underdog label doesn’t bother the Orioles. They’ve heard it all year and they’ll just keep playing with their house money, proving more and more people wrong in the process.

We’ll keep waiting for that bankroll to expire while Showalter’s club continues one of the most remarkable baseball stories we’ve seen in a long time for at least another postseason series.

We don’t know when it will come to an end, but few teams have ever embraced the underdog role with such vigor.

And they’ll keep reminding you why you shouldn’t doubt them.

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Harbaugh grateful for support of Showalter, Orioles at Thursday’s game

Posted on 28 September 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Enjoying their final day off before the last six games of the regular season, manager Buck Showalter and some of the Orioles took the opportunity to attend the Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.

What the Orioles skipper didn’t expect was the thunderous ovation he and several of his players would receive when they appeared on the M&T Bank Stadium video screen in the second half. Nearly 71,000 fans exploded into a “Let’s go O’s!” chant and provided a standing ovation as the Orioles in attendance watched the game from Cal Ripken’s suite.

“That was fun. I know the players were buzzing about it,” said Showalter, who was sitting elsewhere before deciding to stop by the suite to say hello to Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and a few others before leaving for the night. “I think it even surprises them sometimes, the reaction that our city and our fans have to what they’re doing this year. I think it’s good, and I’m trying to stay in the background.”

While obviously focused on the task at hand of beating the Browns for the ninth straight time since becoming the coach in Baltimore, John Harbaugh shared his appreciation for the support shown by Showalter and Orioles players and offered his thoughts on what’s happening with Baltimore’s other professional sports team this year.

“I think the world of that team,” Harbaugh said. “I love Buck. I think he does a great job. They play fundamentally-sound baseball. This is a special team.”

An avid college football fan, Showalter was trying to leave the suite as his players and stadium personnel urged him to stay, obviously with the plan of showing the manager and his players on the video board. As fans erupted into loud cheers, Showalter wanted the energy to assist the Ravens in protecting their closer-than-expected lead over the winless Browns.

“They were trying to time it,” Showalter said. “I guess they needed a big defensive stand there or something. They thought it’d be a good reaction to the players on the board. I was hoping and praying it was going to be three-and-out afterwards. Otherwise, we’d never be [invited] back, but I think it was. And that’s when I left. I’m leaving in a hurry [after that].'”

Harbaugh offered high praise of the Orioles’ historic success in one-run games and extra-inning contests this season as they’ve already secured their first winning season in 15 years and are on the verge of earning their first postseason berth since 1997 as well.

The Orioles entered Friday with a 27-9 record in one-run games this season, which is on pace to tie the highest winning percentage in major league history in games decided by one run. They’ve won a franchise-record 16 straight games that have gone to extra innings, the longest streak in the majors since the 1949 Indians won 17 in a row.

Growing up in Ohio, Harbaugh recalled listening to Indians games on the radio with his father Jack, who is the bigger baseball fan. The Baltimore coach sees similarities between the Orioles and his own team in 2012.

“How many close games have they won this year? I think they set a record,” Harbaugh said. “One-run games, extra-inning games, finding a way to win. It’s something that we can look at as a team, too, and say, ‘That’s what we did a little bit last night.’ You find a way to win games.”

Unlike any other time in the 17-year period in which the franchises have co-existed in Baltimore, this is the first season in which Baltimore fans have had a reason to be excited about both teams in September and, if they’re lucky, well into the month of October.

Harbaugh made it clear the Ravens are behind the Orioles, inviting Showalter out to watch practice whenever he wants but also acknowledging the Orioles manager and his players are a little preoccupied these days. He even admitted to taking a peak when the result of the Yankees game was shown on the video board during Thursday’s game.

“The Ravens are big fans of the Orioles,” Harbaugh said. “We’re cheering them on in this pennant race. The Yankee score came up last night; I did happen to see that, I have to admit.”

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McLouth blown away by “college football crowd” atmosphere at Camden Yards

Posted on 13 September 2012 by WNST Audio

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Orioles will get by without Markakis, but can they be better than that?

Posted on 09 September 2012 by Luke Jones

To say the Orioles can’t overcome the loss of Nick Markakis to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years would discredit everything they’ve accomplished in an amazing season.

Being tied for first place in the American League East with only 23 games remaining is an enviable position to hold, regardless of any injury or loss a team could possibly experience.

Yes, the Orioles will get by without their starting right fielder and leadoff hitter — who will miss the rest of the regular season and only has a slim chance of returning late in the postseason should the Orioles reach that point — but whether they can do better than that is the critical question. And they’ll need to if they want to win their first division title since 1997 or at least secure one of the league’s two wild-card spots.

“We’ve been a sum of the parts team all year,” manager Buck Showalter said following the game, “and we certainly lost a big part [Saturday night].”

There’s no downplaying how important Markakis has been to a second half in which the Orioles have gone 33-21 since the 28-year-old returned from hamate bone surgery that forced him to miss six weeks in June and early July. Finally providing the club with its first productive leadoff hitter in two years, Markakis had been the club’s most valuable player in the second half as he hit .335 with five home runs, 15 doubles, 28 runs batted in, and a .387 on-base percentage since returning to action on July 13.

Showalter turned to Markakis to handle the top spot in the order because he had no other options, and the Orioles are faced with the same dilemma for the final few weeks of the season. The club will likely turn to left fielder Nate McLouth to assume the No. 1 spot. The journeyman has surprisingly hit .273 with a .341 on-base percentage in 32 games since having his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk, but expected him to continue that production — especially in the top spot of the order — is a lot to ask.

Though the lineup was far from ideal even with Markakis, having his bat in the leadoff spot brought more stability as there wasn’t a black hole at the top.

After finding a way to fill in the cracks with McLouth in left and the combination of Robert Andino, Omar Quintanilla, and Ryan Flaherty at second base, the Orioles will now need to patch another in right field. But it’s what they’ve done throughout the season, and Showalter won’t shy away from thinking outside the box to maximize production.

The Orioles’ best option in right would be to go with a platoon of Chris Davis and Lew Ford. Serving primarily as the designated hitter since Jim Thome went on the disabled list, Davis played respectably in the outfield earlier this season and has hit left-handers (.256 with four home runs in 90 at-bats) nearly as well as right-handers (.257 with 20 home runs in 343 at-bats) this season despite sitting against southpaws more regularly in the second half.

The Orioles could then use Wilson Betemit as the designated hitter against right-handed starters — he’s batted .304 against right-handed pitching this season — and move Davis back to the DH spot with Ford playing right field in games against left-handed starters. Betemit is hitting .143 against left-handers and shouldn’t be considered as a full-time DH.

The defense clearly won’t be as strong without Markakis in right, but the offensive production could remain at a tolerable level with Davis’ bat in the lineup every day and Betemit getting regular at-bats against right-handed pitchers. The return of Thome would provide another option at the DH spot against right-handed pitching, but it’s premature to assume the 42-year-old returns to action and can be productive at this point.

It’s not ideal, but very little has been that way this season and the Orioles still find themselves 17 games over .500 in the second week of September.

Lineup decisions and defensive alignment aside, how will the Orioles respond emotionally to losing one of their best players?

Markakis is well-respected in the clubhouse and you have to feel for him missing out on the first pennant race of his career after enduring six miserable seasons to begin his career in Baltimore. The right fielder missed only 25 games in his first six seasons combined but has endured abdominal surgery, hamate bone surgery, and a broken thumb in this calendar year.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for a team trying to do what no one believed they could entering the season.

“It sucks, what do you want me to say?” center Adam Jones said. “It’s September and one of our best players is down for the the rest of the year. It sucks. What can we do about that? Me [whining] and complaining is not going to heal his hand tomorrow. We have to rally around him. People have injuries late in the year. It’s extremely unfortunate, but it’s how things happen sometimes.”

The disappointment was evident following the game and understandably so.

In a season that can’t be explained statistically, perhaps Showalter’s finest accomplishment has been the ability to get players to buy into the concept of compartmentalizing a 162-game schedule. One of the most tired cliches of the sports world is to “take it one game at a time,” but the Orioles have exhibited just that throughout the season.

They’re never too high after wins and never too down after defeats, and it’s that mindset they must exercise in continuing to play at a high level despite the loss of Markakis.

It starts Sunday with a chance to take three out of four from the Yankees and move into sole possession of first place as the mediocre Freddy Garcia — complete with his 5.09 earned run average — takes the hill for New York.

The loss of Markakis won’t cripple the Orioles. Their record was 16-19 without him earlier this season.

They’ll fill in the cracks in right field just like they’ve done to get by at second base and left field.

But “just getting by” won’t land them in the postseason.

The Orioles will have to be better than that and losing such an important piece to their puzzle of success hurts those chances.

 

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Orioles designated Chavez for assignment, select contract of McLouth

Posted on 04 August 2012 by WNST Staff

The Orioles Saturday announced that they have selected the contract of OF NATE McLOUTH from Triple-A Norfolk.

McLouth batted .244 (44-180) with five doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 29 runs scored and 33 RBI in 47 games for Norfolk after opening the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he batted .140 (8-57) with two doubles, four runs scored and two RBI in 34 games.

In 2008, he was a National League All-Star, won a Gold Glove and led the NL with 46 doubles.

In 765 major league games with the Pirates and Braves, McLouth is a career .246 hitter (586-2378) with 142 doubles, 14 triples, 81 homers and 272 RBI.

McLouth will wear #48.

Chavez batted .190 (23-121) with two homers and eight RBI in 47 games for the Orioles.

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