Archive for the ‘ Baltimore Orioles News ’ Category

Baltimore Orioles: Changes in the organization

The Baltimore Orioles let go of several scouts a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday we found out that they weren’t finished making changes in the front office or throughout the organization. The O’s are apparently not renewing the contracts or parting ways with several people, but most notably former Orioles Scott McGregor, Calvin Maduro, Ryan Minor, and Jeff Manto – again, among others.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of this. I feel that former players should be taken care of. As much as Buck Showalter (who’s son was one of the scouts let go) was criticized for being overly loyal to veterans, I’m right there with him. And that also extends to former players. I think that there should be a place in the organization for those who want to remain a part of it after their playing days.

Obviously it goes without saying that the person has to be doing good work – and there was never any indication that any of the aforementioned alumni were falling short of their duties. This move is more about GM Mike Elias wanting to shape the front office in the manner he prefers. And I do understand that – and I understand it in full. But I also see Scott McGregor, who was on the mound for the final out of the 1983 World Series, who’s now sent packing from the only organization he’s ever known.

At the end of the day, if Elias can mold the Orioles into World Series champions down the line this will have had little to no effect on it. I just wish there were a way that they could have kept former Orioles in the organization. But these are the things that happen when you rebuild. You have to trust the process.

The O’s open a three-game set at home this evening with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Los Angeles’ Ross Stripling. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: MLB needs to re-think it’s interleague strategy

The Baltimore Orioles will open a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers tomorrow night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Los Angeles of course comes in with an eye on the post-season, while the Orioles are in effect playing out a string. However that wasn’t always the case at this time of year.

As we know, the Orioles won more regular season games than anyone in baseball between 2012-2016. They were always very much in contention at this point. So you, the Orioles fans, know what that’s like. You obviously want things to go as smoothly as possible for you.

Interleague games can sometimes throw a wrench into that armor. From the Dodgers’ perspective, that’s what they’re having to deal with right now. However from the perspective of an American League team, it’s even worse – you surrender your DH. And there have been plenty of times when the Orioles of the aforementioned era have had to do that in these all-important September games.

This is symptomatic of MLB wanting to have an interleague game on every day of the season. Literally from Opening Day until the season concludes. So whenever your team has an interleague game at what could be deemed an inconvenient moment, just keep in mind that someone had to play interleague today.

But I think it made much more sense to do interleague games in blocks, which is how it used to be. Normally the weeks leading in and out of Memorial Day weekend (and Memorial Day weekend itself), and the last couple of weeks in June would be interleague games. So whether you were home or away, that’s when you would be playing games against the opposite league.

MLB moved away from that, however I think it’s something they should reconsider. Once you get to September it should be about one of two things; the playoffs, or playing out a string. I suppose if you’re the Orioles and you’re playing out a string, it’s not that big a deal. However the L.A. Dodgers have to get used to a style of play with which they’re not familiar, at a very sensitive moment.

Again, the Orioles have had to do that in the past as well. However if the league went back to the former rules on interleague play, that would cease to be an issue.

Baltimore Orioles: Are the Birds impacted by Kansas City’s potential sale?

The Baltimore Orioles open up a three-game set in Kansas City tonight over Labor Day weekend. There was an interesting story that broke this week considering this weekend’s opponent. Apparently the owner of the Kansas City Royals, David Glass, is in talks to potentially sell the team. If the deal goes through, the sale price is rumored to be $1 Billion.

Let’s get the thank you Captain Obvious moment out of the way; that’s A LOT of money. Probably more than any of us is every going to see in this lifetime. However this does relate just a bit to the Orioles. There have been rumors that either owner Peter Angelos, or the family of owner Peter Angelos could be interested in selling the O’s at some point in the near future.

So if the Kansas City Royals net a sale price of $1 Billion, what does that say about what the Orioles might be worth? Could Angelos or his family not then turn around and tell a potential buyer, the Royals got this, so we should at least get that? Is it really that simple – as just to say that?

You have to look at both franchises and what they have going for them. Both are in the basement right now, but building their cores. Kansas City does have a recent World Series title, which the Orioles can’t tout. However, while both franchises are smaller markets, Baltimore is the 26th largest media market in the country. Kansas City is the 32nd largest. While those are only separated by a few slots, being a top 30 market is still huge.

One could also argue that the fact that the Orioles often have to compete for fans within their own backyard with another franchise makes them a tougher sell. However on the flip side, they also draw from the much larger Washington, D.C. media market. So it goes both ways.

It seems that each time you make an argument for one franchise being worth more, there’s an inverse argument which in theory could cancel that argument out. At the end of the day the Orioles and Kansas City Royals are probably worth very similar sale prices. So this is definitely something to watch, as if Kansas City sells for that $1 Billion price, one could definitely expect the same of the Orioles if they’re ever sold.

The aforementioned series with Kansas City begins tonight at Kauffman Stadium. The Orioles are yet to announce a starter, and Kansas City will start Eric Skoglund. Game time is set for 8:15 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Richard Bleier sounds off on shifts

The Baltimore Orioles are once again being talked about due to a public spat between a player and a coach. Reliever Richard Bleier came out of last night’s loss in Washington, and appeared to have words with third base coach Jose Flores. Later it was confirmed that the issue at hand was defensive positioning:

I think I just let frustration kind of boil over about some stuff that … some balls that I thought maybe defensive positioning, I guess. I probably could have done better for myself to keep my mouth shut, and unfortunately, I may have said something and you guys saw the rest.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

Bleier surrendered a single down the first base line in last night’s game, on yet another play where the Orioles played a shift. And the ball would have been hit right to the first baseman had the shift not been on. As has been chronicled in this column ad hoc, teams seem adept at beating the Orioles in a shift. Bleier went onto say:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, I think that we’re all adults. It’s not like I’m mad at anybody. Right now, we’re not thrilled with each other, maybe, but I’m sure we can move past this and get back to a healthy relationship.

Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

First and foremost, regardless of anything else I’m not a fan of players verbally confronting coaches in public. I always remind folks – this game is a job to these guys. Think about your job, whatever that may be; if you have an issue with how a boss or supervisor is conducting things, do you verbally confront him in the middle of the office? In general, no you don’t.

Now having a closed door meeting with your superior and airing your concerns in a civilized manner might be another story. In general that’s a much better conduit for change. It also comes across as much more professional. And if you look at those quotes Bleier seems to understand that.Perhaps he understands it in retrospect, but he seems to understand it.

That said, I obviously agree in principle with Bleier. My personal view is that the Orioles play these shifts far too often. And on top of that, when they play them they usually play fairly radical shifts. There may be only one opportunity for a guy to get a base hit with some of these shifts – but they’re finding that one hole of daylight, all other things be damned.

Not all of this can be avoided. Some hitters just luck out at times. However how many situations have we seen such as in last night’s game where the ball is literally being hit to the exact spot a fielder would have been had there been no shift? That’s something that should stand out to fans.

I think what we’re seeing is that at the end of the day these shifts are just going to make guys into better hitters. The idea behind a shift is to cover the spots on the field where the hitter usually hits the ball. The fatal flaw of the shift is that the game’s still played by human beings. Sometimes fluky things happen. And if I were the Orioles, it would give me pause when I saw that they seemed to happen to me an awful lot.

Baltimore Orioles head for D.C. to battle for beltway supremacy

The Baltimore Orioles head down I-95, US 1, the B/W Pkwy, etc, to Washington D.C. this evening to open up a two-game set with Washington. The teams split a two-game series last month at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. However Washington’s gotten hot since then. Very hot.

However the Orioles also are coming off of a winning home stand, where they took four-of-seven games. The big difference between these games and others is that the Birds will have to surrender their DH, and the pitchers will have to hit. The teams themselves aren’t really into that. But the players certainly are – the pitchers, that is.

Speaking for myself, I despise the concept of the designated hitter. I know that the National League is much more likely to adopt the DH than the American League is to drop it, however I digress. I’ll grant you however that it puts American League teams at a disadvantage in these interleague games. But them’s the breaks.

The series begins this evening at Nationals Park in D.C. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Patrick Corbin. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Beating last year’s win total matters

As I mentioned at the tail end of my game recap yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles have now won 43 games. Four more wins and they’ll have equaled last season’s win total. Five more and they’ll have bettered it.

Again, my vision for a “successful season” at the beginning was to beat the 2018 Orioles. Many folks are of the view point that it’s a weak goal, as stated. In essence, that making that the goal is admitting defeat before you even begin.

I don’t look at it that way. The Orioles were up front about what this season was going to be before the season even started. Therefore everyone should have known that it would be a difficult season, barring a miracle. And it has been. But garnering more wins than last year does show an improvement. It may only be a slight improvement (depending on the margin of improvement), but it shows an improvement.

And we know that the organization as a whole is in a much better position than it was at this time last season. As I’ve written, Baseball America ranked the Orioles’ farm system in the 20’s at the beginning of last year (out of a total of 30 teams). After the Orioles’ draft in June they ranked them as having the 8th best farm system in baseball.

Now there are some crass individuals who say that doesn’t help the 2019 Orioles in the here and now. And that’s very true. However it does show the fruits of labor in terms of re-tooling the organization. Baseball is in essence like a reverse funnel in the sense of it’s minor league systems. Quality players funnel upwards to the big leagues. So with the Birds’ farm system taking that big a leap in one year, the future does in fact look bright.

However if the O’s can also manage to win more games than they did last year, there would also be a legitimate argument that they took a step forward in the majors as well. We still don’t know if that goal will be realized – but with four games separating them from that goal, it appears to be a drop in the bucket.

Baltimore Orioles: In memoriam for the late Mike Flanagan

August 24th is a day that Baltimore Orioles’ fans will likely never forget. In 2011 the team was in Minnesota on a road trip. As that evening’s game unfolded, news from back in Baltimore started coming in of a body being found on the Baltimore County property of former Oriole Mike Flanagan.

At some point during the game local police confirmed that the body was that of Flanagan. The next few days were a blur for Orioles fans. At that point in time Mike Flanagan was a color analyst for Orioles games on MASN. But obviously his entire adult life had been dedicated to the Baltimore Orioles.

On that day I swore that so long as I penned and Orioles’ column I’d always remember the late Mike Flanagan on this day. He was the very heart and soul of the team and perhaps the city through some very magical years. He was witty and had a charm about him that was symptomatic of his New England upbringing.

Flanagan also came from a time when athletes moved themselves to the city in which they played. That doesn’t really happen any longer. Some do that, but not many. So Flanagan and his family lived amongst the fans. His kids went to school with your kids and so forth. He was very much a member of the greater Baltimore community much more so than just playing for the Orioles.

I suppose I’ll never forget the way that this horrible news was received by Orioles fans and the Baltimore community. There was an outpouring of support both for and from the Orioles themselves, and from fans all over when the team returned from Minnesota that weekend. And my hope is that Mike Flanagan is never forgotten. He was a great Oriole, and remains so in death.

Some events rock the world. This one very much did for Orioles fans. Mike Flanagan will always remain a focus in the Orioles’ story over time. While his death sent shock waves across Baltimore, my hope is that Orioles fans just remain grateful that he came their way.

Baltimore Orioles: Another take on the Jon Heyman tweet

Yesterday I wrote about MLB Network’s Jon Heyman calling out the Baltimore Orioles on twitter. Heyman was…less than complimentary about the Orioles’ rebuild process:

The reaction was predictably poor, including that of this writer. My point is that Heyman didn’t react this way when the Houston Astros or Chicago Cubs went through this same process. Yet it’s the Orioles who not only get called out, but also are now in Heyman’s eyes the face of tanking in professional sports. (Whereas if you read my column – linked above – I say that there’s a difference between tanking and rebuilding.) I stand by what I’ve said on the matter; personally I think Heyman was out of line.

However there’s another take out there as well, and one that ever so slightly more benign at that. Heyman said that what the Orioles are doing isn’t good for the game. But is the criticism possibly coming from a better place than we think?

There’s no question that what the Orioles are doing is making things much easier on teams such as Boston and New York. The O’s of course are in Boston this weekend, but they finished their season slate against NY by dropping the final 16 games. Those games made New York look unstoppable – unnecessarily unstoppable. And they’ve had their share of games as such against Boston also.

Is it possible that Heyman’s point is that what the Orioles are doing is making things easier for teams such as Boston and New York? One could make that argument – I suppose. I’m not sure that I personally buy that, however it is in fact possible.

But if you buy into that mentality, my rebuttal would be what exactly are the Orioles supposed to do? Should they go all out just to get to 60-70 wins so that they come off as “competitive?” Because that’s in essence what they did from 1998-2011. And that famously didn’t really work out.

I would also say this to Jon Heyman and other naysayers; look at what the Orioles have in the minors. Their farm system was ranked 22nd by Baseball America last year. Fast-forward to last month after the Birds traded for so many prospects (in 2018) and replenished the farm system with a GREAT draft. Baseball America ranked them as having the 8th best farm system in baseball. Now that’s meaningless for the big league level in the here and now. However the Orioles are in this for the long game. And it’s evidence that the rebuild is working.

As I said earlier, the O’s head up to Boston for a weekend series at Fenway Park. Aaron Brooks gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles called out by national writer Jon Heyman

Jon Heyman of MLB Network is apparently not a fan of what the Baltimore Orioles are doing. Heyman tweeted late Tuesday night:

Reaction to this commentary was swift and sure; most people felt that this was an unfair take on Heyman’s part. And I agree with that sentiment. I’ll even take it a step further; saying what Heyman said is beneath the dignity of a national reporter.

First and foremost, both the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs have gone through this exact process of late. And both of those organizations won World Series’. (Also worth throwing in that the Orioles’ GM and manager were both respective parts of those two organizations.) Was Heyman complaining about the process then?

And the answer is no. Here’s another point; the Orioles aren’t tanking. They’re undergoing a full rebuild. There’s a big difference. Tanking means you’re all but trying to lose games. Various NBA seasons involving the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics come to mind. The Orioles may only be fielding a lineup which sports an all-star by default, but I feel you’d be hard pressed to argue that the guys on the field at any given time aren’t trying to win games. When you see guys diving around for the ball, running hard, etc, the fact is that they aren’t mailing it in.

And that’s why I say that Heyman’s comments are beneath his position as a national pundit. He’s accusing players and coaches of something that first off isn’t true, but also of something that he couldn’t possibly know. It isn’t for Jon Heyman or anyone else (myself included) to say whether or not the players are playing hard and so forth. But the efforts they put in indicates that they are.

Heyman’s job is to report the news – not become a part of it. But again, I do find it odd that nobody called out other organizations for doing exactly the same thing as what the Orioles are doing now. Apparently it’s just the Orioles.

Baltimore Orioles: Return of the ‘Why Not’ Orioles

Baltimore Orioles fans are in for a treat this weekend, as it’s the 30-year reunion of the “Why Not” Orioles. As so many fans of my generation and older recall, the O’s were horrible in 1988. They started the season 0-21. The outlook wasn’t much better for 1989, either.

But a funny thing happened; the slightly re-tooled 1989 roster jumped out of the gate. They were in the race until the bitter end, falling out on the last day of the season. However their moniker became why not? A popular music video was also recorded (link here) and played throughout the season. But in the ballpark and on the radio.

That was refreshing to see after the horrors of 1988. Nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles, and this is a great opportunity for fans to get to see some of those old players return. Some of them we still know day in and day out. Obviously Cal Ripken Jr. is always around town. And Dave Johnson, Gregg Olson, and Ben McDonald are all a part of the Orioles’ broadcast teams. However when’s the last time Orioles fans saw the likes of Mike Devereaux, Bob Milacki, and others?

That’s part of what these types of celebrations are about. And obviously there’ll be a semi-pall hanging over the event, as the 1989 team’s skipper, Frank Robinson, passed away before the season started. But in the end, it’s the memories that counts. And as I said, nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles. And we’ll see it this whole weekend.

The Houston Astros will be the opponent this weekend during the festivities. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Wade Miley (himself a former Oriole). Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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