Baltimore Orioles trade for two pitchers

The Baltimore Orioles finalized a trade this afternoon. The Birds are sending infield prospect Darell Hernaiz to the Oakland Athletics. In return, they’re getting LHP Cole Irvin, and RHP Kyle Virbitsky.

End of the day, these are low-level moves by the Orioles. Hernaiz was the 16th ranked prospect in the Orioles’ farm system. Irvin led the AL in loses with 15 last year, but also started 30 games and pitched to a 3.98 ERA. He pitched to a career-high 128 strikeouts. Virbitsky was drafted in the 17th round in 2021, and is yet to make his big league debut.

It’s unclear how any of this fits into the Orioles’ plans for 2023. However it always helps to have additional pitching in the farm system. More as we hear it.

Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini to the North Side

Former Baltimore Orioles’ star, Trey Mancini, is headed to the North Side of Chicago. Wrigleyville, to be exact. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that Mancini signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, pending a physical.

The Cubs haven’t yet confirmed the deal, however Feinsand is also reporting that it includes an opt-out after 2023. If Mancini wasn’t coming back to Birdland (which was all but guaranteed), this is absolutely a best-case scenario for Orioles fans. Everyone loves the Cubs! It allows O’s fans to pull for Mancini, while for the most part not rooting against the Birds’ interests. The O’s do visit Wrigley Field over the weekend of June 16-18th.

The O’s have also reached deals with all but one arbitration-eligible player. Pitcher’s and catcher’s are due to report to Sarasota on February 15th. So there’s exactly one month left in the current “phase” of the offseason. However workouts and eventually games beginning won’t stop the O’s from signing a free agent in which they’re interested. They’ve always been a force in free agency – late in the hot stove period.

Baltimore Orioles trade for James McCann

The Baltimore Orioles completed a trade late last night with the New York Mets. The Birds will receive veteran catcher James McCann, in exchange for a Player to be named later. New York will also reportedly be paying $19 million of McCann’s guaranteed $24 million salary for the next two years.

McCann’s production in New York wasn’t exactly what they thought they were signing up for. However he was signed to be the starting catcher, and in Baltimore he most certainly will not be. Barring injury, Adley Rutschman is the Birds’ starting catcher for the foreseeable future. So McCann will be a backup catcher for the most part. He’ll also provide a veteran voice in the clubhouse, and a good example for Rutschman going forward.

In short, the Birds are going to be paying $5 million over two years for a backup catcher. That’s not bad. Tyler Nevin was designated for assignment to make space on the roster for McCann.

Baltimore Orioles sign IF/OF Adam Frazier

The Baltimore Orioles have signed IF/OF Adam Frazier to a one-year contract for the 2023 season. The deal is for a reported $8 million – this accoring to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Frazier, 31, is a career .273 hitter. This give the Birds an additional veteran presence on the roster.

Frazier’s primarily a middle infielder, but he’s played in the outfield as well. I suspect that many fans will chide this as just the team being cheap and not wanting to sign top-tier talent. However keep in mind that the current regime has a great track record of plugging average players into the mix and seeing success.

Furthermore, Frazier’s a guy who will bring an aforementioned veteran presence to the team. That means something. The Orioles are still a young team, and that sort of leadership in the clubhouse can be important. Especially considering that the Birds have a young buck named Gunnar Henderson in the pipeline as a future big league middle infielder.

Baltimore Orioles: Election Day

This isn’t about the Baltimore Orioles. At least in truth, it’s not. But today is Election Day in the United States. And this is my Public Service Announcement for people to get out and vote.

Millions of Americans, myself included, have already voted by way of early voting (and mail-in ballots). I always like voting early on Election Day, but for whatever reason I decided to go in two weeks ago and vote in my precinct. I always feel like I’m a part of something grander than just me and my life by casting a ballot.

And that means regardless of what’s on the ballot. The entire U.S House of Representatives, and one third of the U.S. Senate are up for grabs. I remember in my senior High School Civics class my teacher drilled into our minds that all politics is local. It doesn’t matter if your area’s race(‘s) are national or well followed. They all matter. As does your voice. So make it heard.

And look no further than Oriole Park at Camden Yards as evidence of that. Remember the 30-for-30 on the Baltimore Colts Marching Band – The Band That Wouldn’t Die? Remember the scene where the band went down to the statehouse in Annapolis and played the fight song when the General Assembly was voting on stadium funding? It sent a message, right? And a message well-received at that.

But while it’s hinted at in the documentary (which incidentally was incredibly well done), what’s often missed is that this involved the Orioles also. They wanted a new ballpark, and there was resistance in the statehouse to giving funding for new stadiums. This despite the wounds of the Colts leaving town still being fresh.

The image of the Colts band playing the now Ravens fight song put the vote over the top in the way of funding. There were rumors that the O’s would leave also if they didn’t get a new park. That vote may well have kept them in Baltimore.

So again, all politics is local. If you think your voice isn’t important or that your vote doesn’t matter, again look no further than Camden Yards or M & T Bank Stadium to realize that it does. All politics is local. So please folks, regardless of who you vote for or what your views are, make your voice heard. It’s important.

Baltimore Orioles: Honor by virtue of Trey Mancini

The Baltimore Orioles traded Trey Mancini to Houston at the trade deadline. We all know the story, capped off by Mancini hitting a dramatic inside-the-park home run in his final plate appearance in the orange & black at Camden Yards. Trey will always be beloved on the Baltimore sports landscape. And I think that all Orioles fans are thrilled that he’s now a World Series champion.

I would also throw in that I would hope most Orioles fans are happy for Houston manager Dusty Baker. His style and his resume always reminded me of former Orioles manager Buck Showalter. And similarly, he’s one of the game’s good guys and is equally as deserving of being a World Series champion as Trey Mancini. I would also submit that by virtue of winning it all, he’s now a first ballot Hall of Fame manager.

However both Mancini and Baker are now part of a bigger discussion regarding the Houston Astros. Normally I try to stay above the fray in terms of my views on a lot of things. (You might be able to decipher my views if you read hard between the lines, but I digress.) Not in this instance.

The Houston Astros are cheaters. In my mind so long as a core group from their 2017 title run remains in place, there will always be a black mark next to that franchise. Some people will say that’s unfair, but I’m sorry – I don’t think it is.

There’s a certain honor amongst baseball players and within baseball circles. It’s a gentleman’s game. That means that yes, you do everything possible to win. The greatest honor you can show to the game is to win and be successful at playing it.

However the unspoken part of that is that you do everything possible to win…within the rules. It wasn’t just a player or two. It was the entire organization. From the top down. They wanted the glory, and they were willing to cheat the game and it’s fans to get it. That’s not okay.

I’ll grant you that lots of teams probably cheat. Houston just got caught. And yes I’m getting caught, they bear the brunt of the scorn for cheating in general. They’re the unfaithful spouse just wanted a moment of pleasure and stepped out of their marriage for a moment. They’re the sales guy who fudges his numbers to take his bonus home. In short, they reap the rewards but they don’t earn them.

I’m not calling the legitimacy of this year’s World Series title into question. But I’m just saying that this franchise will always raise ab eyebrow as a result of what happened in 2017. They’re the team nobody wanted to see win, because now both they and their fans feel the rest of the world should eat some crow for coming after them so viciously.

Well I have news for them; they SHOULD HAVE been gone after with that fervor. THEY CHEATED. They violated the honor that’s so precious in baseball. So no, they weren’t treated unfairly. It’s fine to celebrate this year’s title – I’m all for that, and they and their fans should do that. But don’t get into the you came after us and we STILL won – egg’s on YOUR face territory. Because the legitimacy of your franchise and the honor therein is still very much in question.

In the middle of this fracas remains Trey Mancini. Again, he’ll always be special to Baltimore fans. There’s nothing that I wrote above which applies to him. Same goes for Dusty Baker. In fact, the one thing they got right was bringing such a respected manager in on the heels of the cheating scandal.

Most fans probably were thrilled seeing Mancini get to win a World Series. He’ll always be an Oriole, and needless to say the Orioles had some representation in the winner’s circle last night. Trey Mancini perhaps helped to purify the Houston Astros – in the eyes of Orioles fans. And there’s no more deserving champion than he.

Baltimore Orioles: Ramon Urias strikes GOLD

The surprises keep on coming for the 2022 Baltimore Orioles. Third baseman Ramon Urias has won the 2022 Rawlings Gold Glove award. The last Oriole to win a Gold Glove was also a third baseman, that being Manny Machado (2015).

Urias only started 98 games at third base this past year, but fielded at a .969 clip. He had 54put out’s and 197 assists. You can look at this as a measuring stick as to how far the organization has come. It means A LOT.

Incidentally, Urias not only joins the aforementioned Manny Machado, but also Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson in terms of royalty at the position. Robinson of course accumulated 16 straight Gold Glove awards for his proficiency at third base. And you can add Ramon Urias to that list now, as he’s won the 2022 Gold Glove award in the American League at third base.

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde named Manager of the Year by The Sporting News

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde has been named The Sporting News’ Manager of the Year. American League Manager of the Year, that is. Ironically, the previous Oriole manager (that of course being New York Mets’ manager Buck Showalter) was named the National League Manager of the Year.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t “the big” Manager of the Year award. That’s voted upon by the writers, and the results of that vote will come out after the World Series. But given where the Orioles were expected to finish and where they did finish, the award was well-deserved for Brandon Hyde. The Birds thrilled the fans of Baltimore and baseball fans across the nation all summer long. And as a result, the future is bright in Birdland.

Baltimore Orioles: Sometimes managing to the exception nets results

The Baltimore Orioles were one of the best stories in sports over the summer. However that title’s perhaps been taken over by the team a short drive up I-95. That being the Philadelphia Phillies.

Philadelphia fired Joe Girardi as the manager on June 3rd, with the season appearing to be in the tank. They then elevated bench coach Rob Thompson as the interim manager. (As of October 10th, the interim tag was removed, meaning Thompson is the new manager moving forward.) Had you asked me at the time, I would have said that they were throwing in the towel on their season. It sure seemed that way at the time.

I’ll be very honest; I generally take a very machinistic view of things. Common sense states that in sports when you fire your coach during the season you’re basically giving up. And this is true in every sport. Last season the University of Maryland parted ways with head basketball coach Mark Turgeon early in the year. (Technically it was a mutual separation, but the effect was the same.) I said at the time that the season was over. And I was right. That’s normally the way things go. Sometimes a team can rally slightly and win a few extra games, but you’re in essence admitting that you’re going to be an afterthought the rest of the way.

However what that common sense and yes machinistic view doesn’t take into account are the people and personalities involved. The Philadelphia players almost immediately bought into whatever it was that Rob Thompson was selling. They all but instantaneously gelled as a team, and begun winning games. And somehow they stumbled their way into representing the National League in the World Series.

I’m inclined not to like Philadelphia teams. (Not to mention the “phans.”) But you’re kidding yourself if you don’t recognize what an amazing story the Phillies are. They literally laughed in the face of common sense – which again, states that you’re punting the season when you fire your coach. They turned that on it’s head.

So in that regard this brings up an interesting question. Is changing managers/coaches mid-season actually a strategy for winning now? My answer is a resounding NO. Again, because I’m a simp to common sense and reason. You only get to a point to where you’re going to fire your manager when it’s too late (for that year). You do it only when you’ve crossed the threshold where you’d need a miracle to salvage a good season.

So the rule remains the same. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a spot in sports where changing coaches in the middle of the season is going to become a strategy for winning now. To me it signifies that you’re going to have to start over in some capacity. So then how do we justify in our minds what the Philadelphia Phillies are doing?

There are exceptions to every rule. And the Phillies are certainly one of them. The Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley in 2010, at roughly the same general time in the season that Philadelphia changed managers this year. That 2010 team wasn’t too different than the 2012 team which muscled into the playoffs under Buck Showalter. (There were a few guys added or subtracted in between, but the same general mix of players.) Could that 2010 Orioles team have made something of themselves also?

Obviously we don’t know the answer to that, other than the fact that it just didn’t happen. But I think that in Philadelphia you probably had the talent and the mindset within the players to make a run. And the results indicate that they simply needed a fresh message. Or messenger. Sometimes you just catch lightning in a bottle. (And on a much lower scale, the 2012 O’s did just that.) And yes, it’s the exeption to the rule, and it goes against the grain of common sense. But if you’re a Philadelphia fan, all you can really do is enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Baltimore Orioles: “Big Mo” means something in the postseason

The Baltimore Orioles made a serious bid to earn a wild card spot in the 2022 postseason. That much we know. But what would have happened had they made it? Could a clue or two lie in how the playoffs have unfolded thus far?

The answer is NO. We can’t give a real response to that question. But what we can say is that the teams who received a bye in the wild card round, didn’t faire too well. Los Angeles, St. Louis, and the New York Mets were all eliminated. The New York Yankees had to go to an elimination game (today) in order to advance, and they at times looked lackadaisical in having to do so. (Houston advanced in a series sweep.)

Instead, Philadelphia and San Diego went from the regular season to the wild card round, and are now in the NLCS. Cleveland did the same thing but lost out after taking New York to the brink. There’s something to this.

The regular season ended on a Wednesday, and the postseason didn’t start for many of these teams until the following Tuesday. Save for the all-star break, that amount of time off is unheard of for a baseball team. The real question is did it affect momentum?

The results, at least for this year, indicate that they did. And IF that’s true…the fact is that momentum means A LOT. In any sport. How often do we hear about NFL coaches like Bill Belichek say they don’t like to take their foot off the gas? The argument FOR running up the score in essence is because it’s tough to turn it back on once it’s been turned off. In other words, MOMENTUM is key.

I’m in favor of the new playoff format. I think it allows good teams to make the postseason, while offering what appears to be a clear benefit to teams who win their divisions with better records. The question however is how clear an advantage is it? I don’t see MLB tinkering with the format to make the lower seeds get a bye – or anything like that. But the early stages of the 2022 postseason would indicate that it might be better to just keep on playing coming out of the regular season. However for all we know, next year might yield different results.

So how would the O’s have faired had they made the playoffs? I tend to think they would have gone to an elimination game in the wild card round and now out. Basically dropping two-of-three. They would have lost with dignity without a doubt, and there would have been no shame in that. Heck, there was no shame in how the season ended in the true reality. However the success of teams like Cleveland, Seattle, and Philadelphia should make Orioles fans yearn for 2023. And it should be a stark reminder that while “big mo” matters, hope always springs eternal.