Archive for the ‘ Baltimore Orioles News ’ Category

Baltimore Orioles have to move on from Manny Machado

The Manny Machado-less Baltimore Orioles are in Toronto this evening to open up the second half of the season with a three-game set on the road against their AL East rivals. I do find it interesting that we still call the post-All Star break the second half. The Birds have already played 97 games, which is 16 more than halfway through the season. But I digress.

This has been a tough week for the Orioles, and I’m not talking personally per se. Machado had a lot of friends in the clubhouse, all of whom are sad to see him go. But the very public departure and the lead up to said departure of a player wears on a team. The trade discussions were already hot as it was, but the fire really got hot when Machado was lifted from Sunday’s game against Texas. While the official reason was a wet field in the wake of a rain delay (which in theory was true), we obviously knew something was up.

However all of that needs to be in the past now. It goes without saying that the Orioles aren’t in contention, nor could they potentially play their way back into contention. But the season’s still on. There in fact does appear to be a new direction in which the franchise is heading, and that has to begin tonight. Granted, the roster might well look different in a week. However the players that remain now, tomorrow, and onward need to put this out of their minds and just play ball.

In effect, I’m saying that the term I used in the first sentence (the Manny Machado-less Orioles) isn’t one that should really be used. They aren’t the Machado-less Orioles, nor will they be the Britton-less Orioles or the Jones-less Orioles. They’re the Orioles. If players keep in their minds that this player or that one is now gone and question how they’re going to go on as a team (in the manner that some fans do), things will go from bad to worse.

The Orioles will have to make a roster move prior to this evening’s game, for the mere reason that they’ll need to fill Machado’s slot on the roster. It’s unclear who will be coming up, but the Orioles will announce something before the game. Incidentally, while the Birds do open the second half on the road, it’s really just a one-series trip. Monday they’ll be back at Camden Yards for a homestand that includes Boston and Tampa.

The series at Rogers Center opens this evening. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sam Gaviglio. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado heads off into the sunset

As I was heading into a movie theater yesterday evening official word came that the Baltimore Orioles had traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’ll be their starting shortstop tomorrow evening when they resume their season with a three-game set in Milwaukee. For what it’s worth, Los Angeles will then head to the east coast for a three-game set starting Monday in Philadelphia. So Orioles fans could make the trek up there if they wanted to see Manny one final time. Somehow I suspect that the reception from the phans up there won’t be quite as rosy as it was when he visited as an Oriole and they thought he might be traded there.

However that aside, I do think that Orioles fans have a reason for some optimism on a day where one might feel apt to feel sorrowful. First off, everyone wishes that they could have kept Machado. Speaking for myself, I feel that I grew up as a writer during the time when he was with the Orioles. And certainly there’s a connection with fans, seeing that Baltimore tends to embrace it’s athletes as it’s own.

But my hope is that fans won’t look so much as the not running out ground balls, the infamous bat toss against Oakland, or the act of forcing the team to move him to shortstop. Consequently, I also hope that fans don’t remember his departure simply because he couldn’t re-sign here and the team needed to deconstruct and rebuild. My hope is that fans never forget the fact that his time in an Orioles’ uniform coincided with a surprise return to glory for the Birds. It’s the same as ending any other relationship in life, be it due to breakup, divorce, or death; remember the good times.

The real reason however that fans should be optimistic is due to the fact that the Orioles got five prospects in return for Machado: Yusniel Diaz (OF), Breyvic Valera (IF), Rylan Bannon (IF), Dean Kremer (RHP), and Zach Pop (RHP). As I wrote yesterday, Diaz is the centerpiece of the trade from the Orioles’ perspective, and he very well could slide into the right field role in the future. He was assigned to double-A Bowie, along with Bannon, Kremer, and Pop. Valera was optioned to triple-A Norfolk. There was no money or international signing bonus slots that changed hands. It was a straight up 5-for-1 swap.

Keep in mind folks, these guys are all prospects. It’s tough to say how any of them turns out. It sounds like Diaz, who hit two homers in the future’s game on Sunday, could very well end up in the big leagues at some point in the future. He’s been called “a stud” by several scouts. But if one or two of the other guys ends up in the big leagues somehow, at the end of the day it’ll look like a good trade. Needless to say however, the Orioles got great value for Machado. At one point fans were writing into this site and tweeting at me saying that if all they could get was a low A prospect, they should take that. They got a lot more than that.

Dan Duquette also addressed the local media yesterday after the trade became official, saying all of the pertinent things such as it was hard to part with Manny and so forth. However he also committed the franchise to a rebuild in a sense (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

We’re going to take a look at trading the veteran players. Our veteran players have done a nice job for us, but the ones that are nearing free agency, I think we need to evaluate our club going forward and at this time of year, the competitors are looking for the veteran players who have been seasoned in pennant races, as have our players. And we’re going to look to maximize that opportunity on the market and try to find as many good, young players as we can to deepen our farm system.

In conjunction with that, we’re also going to be making significant investments this offseason in technology and analytics. We’re going to become more active on the international market and invest in our facilities and strengthen our overall baseball operation. That’s part of a plan that we have to have to get the Orioles back to competitiveness. But this is just the first step in a new direction.

Duquette was also asked if there was a chance that the rebuilding process might get shorter based on the moves the Orioles could potentially make in the coming weeks:

Well, we hope so. It’s a growing process, but the clubs that have done it recently have given us an instructive road map in what to follow and I think we have a good idea of what it takes to be consistently good. The thing about the American League East is it identifies your strength and it also identifies your weakness. We have identified a number of weaknesses we need to shore up as we move forward to have a competitive club. Certainly to compete against the really strong clubs in the American League East.

Duquette also talks like a guy who’s going to be around longer than just this year. That’s very much up in the air, as is the Orioles’ ownership situation. But Duquette went on to say that he wants to remain here:

Well, I think everybody understands the changes that we need to make and Orioles fans should know how deeply committed we are to that plan of making these important adjustments. And like I said before, my heart is in Baltimore and I’d like to make the Orioles into a top contending organization again. Like I said, today’s a new direction for the organization. I’m glad to be helping the club go in that direction.

Maybe he has a handshake agreement with John and Lou Angelos to stay with the club. Maybe he’s just being coy or saying the right thing. Who knows? All we can say for sure is that regardless of who manages the team and/or acts as the GM after this year, the organization appears committed to a rebuild along with a commitment to analytics among other things. This is a good start, and it sounds like more changes are coming down the pike. And again, that should give fans a reason for optimism.

Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado potentially to head west today

Let the official record show that Manny Machado started and played in last night’s MLB All-Star Game as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. This of course amid speculation that Machado is on his way out of Baltimore, the suitor du jour being the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yesterday I wrote that he appeared earmarked for Philadelphia – because that’s what the tea leaves were saying at the time. But when people have asked me since the beginning of the season, I’ve always said I thought he’d end up in Dodger Blue. Call it a hunch.

Machado went 0-for-2 in the game at the plate before being lifted. The American League ended up winning 8-6, in an All-Star Game that set a record with ten homers. There were also 25 strikeouts in the game. Both of those numbers are largely indicative of where the game is and where it’s continually going right now. Incidentally, the game also went extra innings, finishing just before midnight after ten innings.

It’s been reported that Los Angeles Dodger prospects Yusniel DiazErrol Robinson, and possibly others are in play to be coming back to the Orioles. Diaz specifically has been referred to as an absolute stud by numerous people. He was in D.C. on Sunday playing in the future’s game, and he smacked two home runs.

Diaz is also a right fielder, which is a position that the Orioles have struggled to fill since Markakis departed. Robinson is an infielder who’s currently in single-A, but is showing some promise. Not that it matters, but he’s also a Maryland native. Maybe that vouches for something.

The fan reaction on twitter among other media is one of sorrow. And I suppose I understand that to a certain degree. Nobody wants to part with a talent like Manny Machado. But fans should also keep in mind that it sounds like the Orioles are having the opportunity to hand-pick from Los Angeles’ farm system. This trade could very easily work out well for the Orioles down the road.

I think that the way you have to look at it is that Baltimore (perhaps more so than any other city) really embraces it’s athletes. That’s why it’s so tough to see Machado go, because he has rapport with the fans and the city. But he’s not “walking,” per se. The Birds are getting something – a lot, actually – back for him. The next generation of Baltimore stars to be embraced may well come in this deal.

Diaz appears to be the centerpiece of the deal from the Orioles’ perspective, but I’ve heard that as many as five prospects total may head to the Orioles. If that’s true, they will have all but gutted Los Angeles’ farm system. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

What’s also unclear is whether or not any of the players would make an impact at the big league level right away. Diaz might have a shot at being brought up immediately, but odds are the rest of the players will need more seasoning – perhaps even Diaz. But ultimately time will tell.

Baltimore Orioles: Has the purge quietly begun?

Lots of changes are going to come to the Baltimore Orioles between now and…whenever. Vice-President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette’s contract is up at the end of the season, and the suspicion is that he’s all but gone (as has been covered here and on other columns). That’s only one position that’s potentially going to turn over. But perhaps…has it already?

According to Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal, the Orioles have hired John Vidalin, formerly of the NBA’s Miami Heat, as the Chief Operating Officer for Business Operations. This is a new position that was created for Vidalin, who was the Heat’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Revenue Officer. Prior to that he had worked in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.

This isn’t a hire that made a lot of waves. Sharrow’s article actually was published on July 3rd. But it is interesting to say the least. Vidalin’s only going to be in charge of “business operations.” This while Duquette’s still overseeing “baseball operations.” So in theory the two are mutually exclusive. But the timing is still interesting.

First and foremost, we know that a purge of the roster is forthcoming at some point – for all we know as early as today or tomorrow. (I don’t say that with any knowledge of something coming down the pike, but more so because the chips could start falling at anytime.) It stands to reason that the Orioles wouldn’t want Duquette overseeing the beginning of that process (or any part of it) unless he’s going to be here moving forward – which for all I know he might be. But that appears doubtful at this time.

So…did the Orioles just hire Duquette’s replacement? There is precedent for this in a sense. When they hired Andy MacPhail mid-year of 2007, Jim Duquette and the late Mike Flanagan were still technically the co-GM’s. Bowden has said previously that he found out about the hire on the day of the press conference. The two were kept on the payroll for the remainder of their contracts (through the end of the season) in essence as figureheads, MacPhail called the shots from that point forward.

Is it possible that something similar is happening here? It’s possible. It could also be just a new hire in a newly-created position that the Angelos family felt was necessary. According to the Baltimore Business Journal article, Viadlin is focusing on ballpark upgrades, the gameday experience, growing ticket sales, and other aspects. However keep in mind that all of those duties would also fall under the job description of a President of Operations.

The fact is that we don’t know what’s going on. Which means we’ll have to wait and see what the Angelos brothers do. I found it interesting that this hire was made under the radar. If Viadlin starts taking a more public role in the immediate future, perhaps the Orioles have found their man.

Baltimore Orioles: Why keep talent in the minors?

The Baltimore Orioles do in fact have several players in the minor leagues who are beating down the door to come to the big leagues – namely, Cedric Mullins. His name’s been thrown around various outlets for quite some time, and it in fact does appear that he’s ready. So why not bring him and others up to the majors?

It’s all but a foregone conclusion that at some point the Orioles are going to get younger this year. What’s unclear is which veteran players will stay and which will go. That depends largely on the return that the Orioles are able to get on the Machado’s of the world. It’s been reported in the national media that the Orioles have been much more engaged in trade discussions this time around than in the past. The question is whether or not that’s a good or bad thing.

It can’t truly be a bad thing – per se. However it could be that they’re just more attentive this time around, OR it could mean that they’re desperate to strike deals. And if that’s the case, other teams indubitably know that. Which puts those other teams in more of a position of power in wheeling and dealing. In their minds, they can probably get someone for cheaper in a sense.

That aside, I suspect that once cards start being played and trade pieces falling into place, we’ll see Mullins and perhaps others in the big leagues. Ideally the Orioles are going to want big league-ready talent for some of the players who are going to be traded. So if they can unload someone and in theory get his replacement back in a trade right away, that’s a plus for the Birds.

The idea thus being that when the “newbies” start showing up, someone like a Cedric Mullins gets his call to the big leagues at the same time. Then you’re in theory bringing all of these guys along at the same time. It’s called team-building.

Baltimore Orioles feeling the hurt as they head to Philadelphia

The Baltimore Orioles are once again having injury problems. Darren O’Day is done for the season, and new addition Steve Wilkerson has what Buck Showalter is calling “the beginnings of an oblique injury.

This as the Orioles head to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for a short two-game set with Philadelphia. Keep in mind that tonight and tomorrow the O’s will be forced to surrender their DH under National League rules. This means that the pitchers will have to hit. Anyone who’s read me along the way knows I refer NL rules. And big time at that.

But these injuries plus losing the DH compounds a lot of things for the Orioles. Do they make a roster move before tonight’s game? If in fact Wilkerson is unavailable, I think they have to – otherwise they’re left without a backup infielder.

These decisions aren’t easy. Especially when the Orioles are trying to time the addition of younger talent with trading veterans. But even in a down year, the urgency of today’s game always takes precedent.

As previously stated, the O’s will be at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for tonight’s series opener. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Philadelphia’s Zach Effin. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles head to D.C. for the Battle of the Beltways

The Baltimore Orioles open up a six-game road swing through the National League East with three games in Washington D.C., starting tonight. It’s the return of the Battle of the Beltways, this time D.C.-style. Whereas Washington fans enjoyed their helping of crab cakes and National Boh last month, this week Orioles fans will get to sample half smokes and DC Brau!

The Birds will take on a Washington team that’s struggling a bit of late, or at least much more so than they were the last time the teams saw one another. Their bats have seemingly gone to sleep. Sound familiar? It probably shouldn’t as they haven’t gone to sleep as much as the Orioles’ have. Although the O’s are of course coming off of a nice win on Sunday against Miami in which the bats were ever-present.

However that aside, Washington’s strength has always been pitching. Starting pitching to be specific. But one thing that perhaps could favor the Orioles a bit is the fact that this evening’s Washington starter, Jefry Rodriguez, is coming up from the minors to make the start – his first in the big leagues (despite a relief appearance). Now Washington’s minor league system is fairly stacked, so it may not be the advantage it sounds like. But it’s better than facing any one of their other starters.

This has had to happen because Washington had a bizarre day yesterday in which they completed a suspended game with New York (which they won), and then played a previously rain-out game against the same New York Yankees (which they lost) – in what resembled a doubleheader but really wasn’t. Technically the stats for the completed game count towards May 15th when the game started. That means the win counts for that day as well, meaning that Washington brings a four-game losing streak into this game tonight.

I think baseball is one of the only sports that could produce statistical oddities such as suspended games. Washington’s Juan Soto made his big league debut five days after that May 15th date. However he played in the resumed game yesterday, with those stats counting torwards May 15th. So is May 15th now his big league debut?! In fact, he gave Washington the lead with a moon shot of a two-run homer. So…does that count as his first big league hit, which in turn was a home run?!

Over the years there have been odder things than that which have occurred. There have been suspended games that were resumed a month or two later in which players on both sides have been traded for one another. So you have games where the same player has appeared on both sides of the box score. All of this aside, Washington will be having to make a couple of roster moves before tonight’s game, including sending their 26th man back down. The Orioles of course will call Caleb Joseph back up before the game as well.

So the series at Nationals Park in D.C. opens this evening. David Hess gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by the aforementioned Jefry Rodriguez of Washington. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles returning Caleb Joseph to the majors

The Baltimore Orioles are bringing catcher Caleb Joseph back to the major leagues. He’ll take the roster spot of Chance Sisco, who was sent back down after yesterday’s game. Sisco was originally in the starting lineup, but was scratched just before first pitch due to an illness. Manager Buck Showalter indicated that he thought Sisco was coming down with the bug that had afflicted much of the clubhouse (including Showalter, who’s still suffering from the remnants of bronchitis). That may well be true, but none the less Sisco was optioned almost immediately after the game ended.

This will mean that the Orioles will once again have a pair of brothers on the team with Caleb and his brother Corban. Obviously not as high profile as the Ripken brothers, but I digress. It’s unknown if Joseph or Austin Wynns will be “the starting catcher,” or if they’ll platoon. Personally I’m still of the mindset that Joseph has upside in the organization. Only one way to find out.

The O’s will have to make a roster move prior to Wednesday’s game in Washington as Andrew Cashner will be activated off the DL to make the start. So who’s the corresponding move? Here’s a prediction; in my opinion David Hess has made it near impossible for the Orioles to send him down. Granted he’s starting tomorrow night and a really poor outing might not help him, but overall I think he belongs here. Might it be time for the O’s to at least risk parting ways with Mike Wright?

I say risk parting ways because the Orioles would have to designate him for assignment, which would mean he might sign elsewhere – on the Orioles’ dime. Wright hasn’t been used in games much of late, and in reality he’s taking up a roster spot. Now it could also work out to where he stays in the organization and accepts a minor league spot. But that’s unclear as to whether it’s feasible or would happen.Time will tell, but one thing is certain and that’s the Cashner will be returning on Wednesday.

Baltimore Orioles: Is instant replay going too far?

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter is a proponent of instant replay. When it really got cranking a few seasons ago, he admitted it would need to be tweaked and so forth, but ultimately that it was good for the game (quote courtesy of Eduardo Encina, Baltimore Sun):

I know it’s not going to be perfect. I think we all need to be patient with it. I think when it’s all said and done, it will not slow the games down in its finished product. There are some unknowns there. I was for all they were willing to put in.

There’s one tweak I would make. As opposed to giving teams challenges as the system currently does, I’d make it more like College Football’s “eye in the sky” routine. If there’s a play that the umpire in the booth or in New York thinks should get looked at further, he buzzes down to the crew chief and they review it. In essence, every play is reviewed.

But one thing in which I’m not in favor is reviewing judgement calls. Between covering the Orioles and Team USA not being involved, I’m not paying much attention the the World Cup. However I did happen to glance at a game yesterday morning (France vs. Australia), and I noticed the referee stopping play to review whether or not a penalty kick should be awarded.

The play wasn’t even whistled as a foul, and the game went on. After awhile the ref I presume got word from someone to stop play, and they reviewed it. And the official ruled that in fact an infraction had taken place, and in the penalty area at that. France was awarded a penalty kick.

To me, that’s a judgement call. And quite honestly, that makes this proponent or replay question whether or not the system might be starting to go too far. I’ve never been in favor of reviewing judgement calls, which in baseball would be balls and strikes, check swings, etc. Not only would that slow the game down too much, but in my view it makes it so that the human element is further removed.

Again, to me it’s like reviewing balls and strikes. Or in football it would be like being able to review holding or pass interference. Or heck…could you imagine if basketball allowed for such reviews?! Yeah hey ref, I’d like to challenge on the basis that Player X was in the lane for longer than three seconds. That’s ludicrous. As would be reviewing balls and strikes in baseball, or even balks. Could you imagine that? – All balks are seemingly controversial; so every one of them would end up getting reviewed.

Again, I’m in favor of some form of instant replay. In a sport like soccer obviously you should be able to review potential goals to see if the ball crossed the line and so forth. But to stop play after the fact to determine if a penalty kick is necessary? That’s a bit over the line for me.

And  my concern is that in some manner, this type of thing will catch on in other sports if it growingly becomes popular. All it might take would be for a game to have a roving strike zone, and baseball fans starting grousing about why that can’t be reviewed like they do things in the World Cup. Or a team loses a game on a controversial pass interference call (or non-call), and NFL fans say the same. Ultimately I’m in favor of instant replay – for non-judgement calls.

Baltimore Orioles open nine-game interleague stretch

No need to visit the greater Miami area anytime soon, because the Miami Marlins are coming to town to play the Baltimore Orioles! Tonight’s game begins a nine-game stretch for the Orioles where they’ll play exclusively interleague games. However these first three won’t really be a departure from the norm, as the Birds will be at home.

That of course means that Miami’s starting pitchers won’t have to hit, and they’ll get the benefit of a DH. However after an off day on Monday, the Birds will head south to Washington on Tuesday night for three games. The onto Atlanta for three next weekend as well. Obviously in those cases Oriole pitchers will have/get to hit and the Birds will surrender their DH.

I’ve said this before ad hoc, and I’ll say it again; can we please get rid of the DH?! I’m the first one to tell you that the odds are the National League adopting the DH at some point is probably more realistic than the American League doing away with it. However if the game was supposed to be played with pitchers not having to wield the bat, that would have been put into the rules to begin with. The National League game provides for there to be so much more strategy and thinking ahead in games due to the pitcher being in the order. Just my take.

Miami comes in following a 16-inning loss yesterday afternoon to San Francisco at home. In terms of rest, that gives the Orioles a big advantage. they played a much longer game than they expected to play, and then had to fly to Baltimore. This while the Birds were idle yesterday.

The series with Miami in Baltimore begins tonight at Camden Yards. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Miami’s Jose Urena. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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