Baltimore Orioles avoid arbitration with Trey Mancini

The Baltimore Orioles of course were without Trey Mancini for the entirety of the 2020 season. Well, save for perhaps a few spring training games – if you count that. Mancini of course underwent treatment for colon cancer, keeping him away from baseball activities for the entire year. Or the semblance of the year, at least.

But now that we’re in 2021, he’ll be back. The Birds tendered him a contract last month, however they still had to agree on a salary for the season, unless they wanted to go to arbitration. Luckily, it appears that neither side wanted that.

Mancini and the Orioles agreed earlier today on a salary of $4.75 million for 2021. As I’ve said in the past, I would submit that arbitration is one of the most damaging and ridiculous processes through which a player and a team can go. It causes nothing but ill feelings on both sides, and generally the sides are only arguing in principle over a couple hundred thousand dollars. Chump change in the baseball world.

But the good news is that Mancini and the club decided to stay away from that route. Hopefully that makes for a smooth camp for Mancini, and an even smoother transition back into the regular season.

Baltimore Orioles: Welcome to this year

Happy anew Year to Baltimore Orioles fans across the globe! Starting today we can officially talk about 2021 as “this year.” And to me that’s always meant something.

We all know what 2020 was, and luckily the book’s closed on that. Needless to say, a 60-game season with no fans was strange. But hopefully as COVID vaccines ramp up, “this year” will be different.

We don’t know what “this year” will bring in the way of a season. Or in the way of fan admittance. But there’s only one way to find out. Happy New Year, Birdland!

Baltimore Orioles hire Tony Mansolino as third base coach

The Baltimore Orioles yesterday hired former Cleveland infield instructor Tony Mansolino to be their third base coach starting in 2021. Mansolino is a former career minor leaguer, and has managed at the minor league level as well. Along as I said with being the infield instructor in Cleveland.

Mansolino coached and is friends with former Oriole Ryan Flaherty, who gave his friend a rousing endorsement (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports:

He’s good, he’ll be a good add. From my own personal standpoint, I was fortunate to have Bobby (Dickerson) as an infield coach and then the year I spent in Atlanta I had Wash (Ron Washington). From an infield standpoint, he preaches a lot of the same things that both Wash and Bobby preach and he coaches hard. And I say that in the most respectful way.

The year I was in Triple-A and having a friendship with him, he’d still be getting on me about my secondary leads at third, and I think he pushed me extremely hard even when we had that relationship. And he’s worked in the Cleveland organization that I think is just extremely well run from the top all the way to the bottom.

From a data standpoint, coaching standpoint, I think they do a really good job of blending all the aspects. And he grew up in the game.

Third base coach has been a semi-controversial spot for a few years. Many fans think that the aforementioned Dickerson, for example, was too happy in sending guys. But you can go too far the other way also. The fact that a former Oriole (that’s a fan favorite) gave such a rousing endorsement should speak volumes. Time will tell once the Birds get to spring training and into game action.

Baltimore Orioles: Newly named opponent?

The Baltimore Orioles are slated to take on Cleveland seven times in June of 2021. Three times at Camden Yards, and four at Progressive Field. The teams didn’t meet during the truncated 2020 season. But what will Cleveland be calling itself at that time?

It was announced last night that the Cleveland Indians will cease to be the Cleveland Indians. The franchise is dropping it’s name, similar to the NFL’s now late Washington Redskins. It’s unclear exactly how this process will work. They might go the route of Washington and become the “Cleveland Baseball Team” for 2021. Or they could play as the Indians for one “farewell season.” Odds are against them having a new permanent name for 2021.

Personally I think that any of those options are fine. The Cleveland Indians are a very historic franchise. I think that giving the fans one last year under that name (whereby they know it’s the last year) is a fair move. Obviously just dropping the name and going with Cleveland would be an option also.

One thing I hear occasionally in regards to the Washington Football Team is why couldn’t they just change the name and move on? Why the temporary name? Well in that specific case, someone had trademarked literally every potential name the franchise could have ever considered. So that’s a problem, and it wouldn’t shock me if the same ended up being true for Cleveland. People can be very resourceful when it comes to something that could make them money.

However generations of fans are going to root for this team – both in Washington and in Cleveland. They need to get this right. From picking a good name and mascot, to designing a new logo. Furthermore they’ll want to do it in a way that still pays homage to the franchise as the Cleveland Indians. This for the sake of the throngs of fans who won’t like the change. You have to find a way to keep those people engaged.

So they should take their time. Get it right, and pick a name that people will like. Granted it’s not my place to say anything, but I’d go with the Cleveland Spiders. That was the name of the team before it was the Indians. It was a long time ago, but that was what they called themselves. It taps into the history of the franchise, and they could probably still keep their colors. Just a thought.

Baltimore Orioles: Some people rock the world

The Baltimore Orioles drafted a pitcher out of Spring Arbor University in 1965 named Don Roth. He was an eighth round draft pick, and never made it out of the minor leagues. An alumnus of George Mason High School in Falls Church, VA, he played in Bluefield, WV, Aberdeen, SD, and Stockton, CA. All of which were Orioles’ farm teams at the time.

Roth also played some outfield, and was a career .951 fielder in the Orioles’ system. As a pitcher he had a 3.45 ERA over three seasons. Over his five seasons in the minor leagues, he was a career .247 hitter.

Roth isn’t unsimilar to a lot of guys who even today never make it out of the minor leagues. He gave it a shot, and unfortunately didn’t make it. But obviously looking at his competition in the Orioles’ system at the time, most guys wouldn’t have made it. But he certainly got further than I and most people reading this would have gotten.

Roth later became the varsity Baseball and Golf coaches at James Madison High School in Vienna, VA. He also taught Phys Ed and Driver’s Education. And it just so happened that in the mid to late 1990’s, a future author of a Baltimore Orioles’ column was attending school there.

Mr. Roth was my P.E. and Driver’s Ed teacher. When I entered his class I knew who he was because he was already a legendary coach at the school. He was kind of an institution in those hallowed halls. What I quickly found out was how nice of a person he was. Anyone who ever came through his class was treated in as honest and genuine a manner as one could possibly be. That always spoke very loudly to me.

Since graduating, I’ve always maintained that my high school was special. And Mr. Roth was one of the people who made Madison special. Certainly his various championships as a coach didn’t hurt. But the care he gave to every student who was privileged to come through his classroom was second to none. It sounds cliche to suggest that a teacher made the content come alive in a sense. But when the content is Phys Ed, it naturally comes alive. However they say you’ll never forget how someone treated you or made you feel in a certain situation. And to this day I’ve never forgotten how Mr. Roth treated my fellow students and I.

His gentle hand was a guiding force during what are shall we say complex years in anyone’s life. Teenage years can be rough. He understood that, and speaking for myself the manner in which he handled his students was always appreciated.

As I said, I knew who he was when I went into his class because he was a Madison legend. What I found out on day one was that he had been an Oriole. Not included in his minor league stats was the fact that he started one spring training game – his only start at the big league level. I remember him telling me that. And if I recall it didn’t exactly go according to plan. But as I’ve written many times in February and March, that’s why those games are played!

I was in his class during the famed Jeffrey Maier incident, when the then-youngster robbed Orioles’ outfielder Tony Tarasco of a ball in right field at Yankee Stadium in the playoffs. I remember stopping by his classroom the next morning, and both of us were fit to be tied. He called it one of the most atrocious things he had ever seen let go in a sporting event. But it doubly hurt him because it hurt his former team. He never forgot that he was an Oriole, and while I haven’t seen or spoken to him in years, I suspect it was a lifelong affiliation.

I came to find out that Don Roth passed away this week. Through the grapevine I had heard he was sick awhile ago. I would simply say that he was one of the most decent gentlemen one would ever have the pleasure of knowing. He retired from teaching soon after I graduated in 1999 as I recall, but I’d still bump into him here and there as a substitute teacher/faculty member given that my sister was still at Madison. I’ll always remember him fondly, and to his family I send my deepest of condolences. Don Roth may have never been a major league ball player, but there’s no question he was a big league guy in the grand scheme of the world. May he forever rest in peace.

Baltimore Orioles lose Frederick

According to MASNsports’ Steve Melewski, the Baltimore Orioles will no longer have the Frederick Keys as their Single-A affiliate starting in 2021. As of now, this will leave the Birds with Aberdeen and Delmarva as their Single-A affiliates. Of course they also have Double-A Bowie, and Triple-A Norfolk. Not to mention the Sarasota Orioles of the Gulf Coast League.

Frederick is expected to join new MLB Draft League, which is a new amateur league starting next summer. They would be the sixth team to join. So the Frederick Keys will exist moving forward, just not affiliated with the O’s. And I for one am happy about that.

Minor league teams are integral to the local economies of their areas. Frederick may not be a huge place, but the Keys are huge there. I know people in Frederick who aren’t necessarily baseball fans. But they love the Keys and they enjoy going to the games.

The Frederick Keys became an Orioles’ affiliate in 1989. It was one of the longest-standing relationships in baseball. It’s been a desirable relationship on both ends. And again, I feel it’s a shame that it’s coming to an end.

Keep in mind, Major League Baseball is trimming the number of minor league teams that are out there. So this isn’t the result of the Orioles or the Keys souring on the relationship. It’s been mutually beneficial. This is an initiative by MLB. And in my view a very poor one. But like it or not, this is apparently what’s happening.

Baltimore Orioles Trade Jose Iglesias

Yesterday the Baltimore Orioles traded SS Jose Iglesias to the Anaheim Angels. The move came as a surprise, seeing that the Birds had re-upped Iglesias for at least another season. In return for Iglesias, the Orioles received RHP’s Garrett Stallings and Jean Pinto.

GM Mike Elias spoke to the local media after consummating the trade, and attested to the importance of getting young talent into the system:

He’s not a player that we would have traded lightly, but we knew there were some open shortstop jobs around the league, we knew he was very attractive for his offensive and defensive and leadership skills that he put on display here with the Orioles. And I think we got two quality arms from the Angels. One of whom, in particular, is somebody that we’ve been focused on since he was in the 2019 draft, Garrett Stallings, one of the best pitchers in the Southeastern Conference that year. Went in the fifth round. We were impressed with him then and while he has not officially played professional baseball because he was shut down after throwing 100 innings at Tennessee, which the Angels do with their draft picks, and then the minor league cancellation is here, we got to scout him in person and also video and data this year through their instructional league. He also appeared briefly at their summer camp when they had some spots open up due to some players leaving camp on their team.

I think it’s another great starting pitching prospect to add to what’s becoming a very impressive stack up in our system. We’re getting all that we can get. I’ve said before that I don’t know that I would trade our starting pitching in the minor leagues right now for anyone else’s and this makes me feel even stronger that that might be the case. So we’re looking forward to working with him. We’re sad to see Iggy go, but this is the business of getting this organization to a long-term period of sustainability.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

What Elias is in effect saying is that the Orioles’ goal in 2021 isn’t so much to win. It’s to continue developing and to get younger. It’s about the future, not 2021. The prospects that the Orioles got in return aren’t top tier prospects per se, but you never know – with any prospect. Stallings was the number 21-ranked prospect in the Anaheim farm system.

I’m sure that different fans will have different opinions on this trade. Personally I believe that you always have to have an eye on the future. The Birds will need to find a new starting SS now, and my prediction is that they look outside the organization for that. Just a prediction – not to be taken as gospel!

Baltimore Orioles avoid arbitration with Pedro Severino

The Baltimore Orioles and catcher Pedro Severino yesterday reached a contract, avoiding arbitration. The Birds will pay Severino $1.825 Million next year. The arbitration deadline was yesterday afternoon.

I’ve long said that salary arbitration is a wasteful and cumbersome process. First off, most teams and players avoid it. Just because the deadline passes doesn’t mean you’re going to arbitration. The deals can still be made, in some cases right up until just before the hearing.

But I say it’s a wasteful process because it can cause bad feelings. The team is literally arguing that the player isn’t worthy of the money the player thinks he is. And the player is arguing that the team is underpaying him. It doesn’t do much in the area of goodwill.

Needless to say, it’s a good thing that they’re avoiding arbitration with Severino. It would be a good thing to avoid it with anyone.

Baltimore Orioles land Miguel Padilla as a PTBNL

You know things are slow with the Baltimore Orioles (and across MLB) when a Player to be Named Later is a story. But it is, because…2020. Nevertheless, the Birds have acquired Miguel Padilla from the Houston Astros as of yesterday.

The Orioles sent pitcher Hector Velazquez to Houston in July for a PTBNL. I suppose that in the grind of the season I forgot about the trade, however normally PTBNL’s are named well before now. Nevertheless, the trade has been finalized.

Padilla pitched in 19 games to a 2.08 ERA in the Dominican League in 2019. Keep in mind these Players to be Named Later are generally low level prospects. But still, it adds a prospect to the Orioles’ farm system. And with the rebuild that’s being undertaken, there’s value in that.

Baltimore Orioles: Happy Veterans Day to all who served

There isn’t much going on in the Baltimore Orioles’ world right now. That seems to be about par for the course across the league. For the most part. But baseball isn’t really to topic du jour.

Today, November 11th, is Veterans Day. So I want to take a moment to thank all who have and currently are serving our nation so bravely and so proudly. America is truly free BECAUSE of the brave. We must never forget that.

Baseball of course has a very deep connection with our Armed Services, with multiple players across various generations having served. And over time, MLB players along with athletes from other sports have joined up with the USO to entertain our brave troops stationed overseas.

So while MLB celebrates dates such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July with day games and hot dogs, I know that teams, fans, and players across the league join me today in offering a debt of gratitude to all of our nation’s brave veterans.