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Baltimore Orioles: Some events rock the world

The Baltimore Orioles are scheduled to take on Oakland this evening at Camden Yards in the first of three games. However given the weather it’s unclear whether or not this game – or really any on this home stand – will be played. It’s almost reminiscent of this exact day 17 years ago, when games across MLB would end up being canceled.

Some events rock the world, and the September 11th attacks most certainly did for all of us who were of a certain age. I do believe that sports played a major role in the healing of America in the wake of that terrible day, perhaps baseball being chief among them. The image of the President of the United States throwing out the first ball in the World Series in New York that year was awe-inspiring.

However today is about the victims and their families, as well as about our country. Which is why I won’t give the starting pitching matchup for tonight’s game as I normally do. It’s irrelevant. Not because of the Orioles’ record, but because some events truly do rock the world, rendering the rest of it meaningless.

Baltimore Orioles: Status of Buck Showalter needs to be addressed

The white elephant in the room regarding the Baltimore Orioles is manager Buck Showalter. Or one of them, at least. Everyone knows he’s now in the final month of his contract. As tough as this season’s been, everyone also knows his track record in Baltimore and what he’s meant to the franchise.

I would argue that what he could mean for the franchise in the future should also be evident. If you’re asking whether or not I think Buck Showalter should be the manager moving forward, the answer is yes. Or at the very least I think it should be his job if he wants it. And obviously it goes without saying that my personal view is that the Orioles should offer him a legitimate contract that he would accept if in fact he wants to continue managing. Basically, the decision should be his.

And here’s another opinion of mine; I suspect that there are in fact negotiations going on behind the scenes. Because I do believe that if there weren’t, it would be announced that Buck wasn’t going to be back. However I do believe that something needs to be said, addressed, etc. on this. And soon.

The players on the roster right now do have a right to know in which direction the organization is looking to go. That goes without saying. I do feel that changes in some form are coming, whether that’s Showalter, Dan Duquette, both, or perhaps someone else.

However I also believe that some sort of announcement should be made for another reason…FOR THE FANSIf the organization wants to go in a different direction from Showalter, the fans are going to want to know. Not just for the sake of the direction of the organization, but for the immediate interim as well.

Buck Showalter’s meant a lot to this city since his arrival in 2010. He jumped right in as manager, and immediately engrossed himself in the organization and the city. He spent two weeks prior to being hired scouting the farm system to know what he had to work with. He immediately formed bonds with local charities, and began almost immediately in restoring pride to the organization. It was quite a spectacle…

…and a funny thing happened. They started winning. Not right away, but within two years. That all of course recently came to a crashing halt. However again if Buck’s not going to be back, I think that the Angelos family owes it to the fans to give them an opportunity to show their appreciation to Buck Showalter and his family. That means the possibility of a packed Camden Yards on the final weekend among other things.

Nobody does nostalgia like the Orioles. We saw it when they closed Memorial Stadium, we saw it during the Ripken streak, and we saw it again for the 60th anniversary of the team coming here. Again if Showalter won’t be back, I suspect that the fans would like to see a similar display. However to be clear, my personal opinion is that he should be offered the chance to stay.

The Orioles travel to Tampa tonight to open up a three-game set. Dylan Bundy gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Blake Snell. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Any trades coming today?

For what it’s worth to the Baltimore Orioles and others, this afternoon at 4 PM is the waiver trade deadline. Teams can make trades through waivers up until that point – in theory. Trades can also occur after that time, and in reality up until the end of the season. However any player traded after 4 PM this afternoon is ineligible to be on a post-season roster.

Most of the heavy trades are made prior to the July 31st non-waiver deadline. As we know, that’s when the Orioles made lots of moves. But the question now is whether or not they’ll do anything further today. Could they possibly acquire a piece or prospect for the future?

Honestly it really boils down to Adam Jones. He’s perhaps the last tradeable player that the Orioles have who would bring back any value. (Unless you want to start trading the likes of Bundy, Cobb, Cashner, et al – which I don’t believe that the Orioles want to do.) It’s been well-documented that Jones hasn’t to this point waived his 10-and-5 status to pave the way for a trade. Might he have a change of heart?

Anything’s possible. However I want to mention again that fans shouldn’t “blame” Jones for his decision. He’s 100% correct in saying that players and the union of the past fought for that right. He has the option and he’s exercising it. And my understanding is that it’s being done partially for family reasons. That right there should tell Orioles fans what they need to know about Adam Jones and the type of person that he is.

With that said, things could certainly change. And I suspect that there would be teams that are interested in Jones for their September stretch run to the post-season. But it hinges on his decision. And ultimately even if he were to agree to it, it also hinges on what the Orioles would potentially get in return. They aren’t going to just give the guy away. Nor should they.

In the mean time, the O’s open up a three-game set in Kansas City tonight. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Kansas City’s Brad Keller. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: In memoriam of Mike Flanagan

Today’s a sad day for Baltimore Orioles fans, as on this day in 2011 we lost the late Mike Flanagan. A well-beloved former player and broadcaster, Flanagan’s death is a moment that will nary be forgotten among Orioles fans. On that day I swore that I’d never let this day pass without writing a tribute column of sorts for Flanagan so long as I covered the Orioles.

Please don’t let the passage of time allow you to forget how tough August 24, 2011 (and the subsequent days following) was. The O’s were in Minnesota, and just prior to the game there were reports of a body having been found on Flanagan’s property. As the game wore on the news that many already seemed to fear became official. It was Flanagan himself whose body was found, a victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

None of us who lived through that night will forget the likes of Rick Dempsey and Jim Palmer sorrowfully weaving their way through the MASN postgame show that night. And that moment really shows how close the Orioles family is. All of these guys played together in Baltimore. They adopted the city, and became a part of its fabric. Their families got to know one another, and their kids grew up together.

On this night in 2011, the likes of Palmer, Dempsey, and others lost a brother. And Baltimore lost a friend. Mike Flanagan loved playing here. He loved this community, and he loved raising his kids here. While never far from his New England roots, he became as much a part of Baltimore as crabs and beer.

My hope for the current crop of young Orioles is that they look to that example, and understand what type of organization of which they are a part. It’s an organization who for generations has made family out of total strangers. Look no further than guys like Schoop and Machado, both of whom of course were recently traded. So the likes of Mullins, Nunez, Mancini, and others should take note of the example set by Flanagan, Palmer, and Dempsey. Because closeness with your teammates and your city is never a bad thing.

My hope is that the fans never forget Mike Flanagan. Obviously as time passes he fades further and further into the past. Eventually the generation (my generation) who sat in the grandstand at Memorial Stadium as kids watching him pitch will be old and tired. But there’s another Mike Flanagan out there, ready to find his way to the Orioles, and ready to lead the team back to glory.

The O’s tonight open a four-game set with New York, which features a split-doubleheader tomorrow at Camden Yards. Alex Cobb gets the start tonight for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s CC Sabathia. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles’ future should be up to Buck Showalter

One of the biggest questions that lingers for the Baltimore Orioles is the status of manager Buck Showalter. We all know what’s going on; Showalter, along with GM Dan Duquette, is in the final year of his contract. The team as it stands now is vastly different than the one he set out coaching at the beginning of the season. And the immediate future looks different as well.

The hope however certainly is that the not-so-distant future looks bright with the plethora of young talent that’s come into the organization. But the question burns, what will become of Buck? He’s said on numerous occasions that Baltimore will be his final managing job. I suppose you never say never, but I suspect that the odds of him going to another team are very slim.

We’ve heard numerous rumblings out of ownership that the manager’s office will remain Buck’s if he wants to be there. We’ve also heard that owner Peter Angelos is increasingly detached from team operations, and that his sons John and Lou are in essence the de facto “owners.” Do they buy into the philosophy that the job is Buck’s if he wants it?

That’s actually another conversation for another day. What I’m saying is that the job should be Buck’s if he want’s it. Detractors will point at this year and this year only as evidence that he shouldn’t return. However I would invite fans to take a look back further than just to April. Buck Showalter helped to revamp this franchise from 2010-2012, on from which they were a perennial contender – until now.

Not only that, but he restored pride to an organization, fan base, and city that direly needed it. Orioles fans were sick and tired of managers who really shouldn’t be managers coming being shipped in and then shipped out. So a change was made, and in 2010 Showalter (who had been working for ESPN) was brought in.

The results were almost immediate, and almost all positive. The difference was that Buck Showalter had been around the game a long time, and fans in essence already knew him. But that aside, he brought the Orioles to where fans questioned if they could actually go again. That should never be lost on Orioles fans.

Again, the decision should be Showalter’s. That means his decision could also be to walk away. I don’t think he would do so on account of having to rebuild, because he seems like a guy who understands that process and who doesn’t mind it. But he, like all of us, has to weigh his options. As an example, he became a grandfather for the first time awhile back; that’s kind of a game-changer.

Point obviously being that for all anyone knows he might feel that it’s time for him to not be managing anymore. Now with that said I do think that if that was going to be his decision, he’d announce his intention to step down after the season – so as to give him some time to say goodbye to the fans, and vice-versa. But at this point we don’t know.

There are plenty of people who will disagree with this – and that’s okay. All I’m saying is that with his track record and with what he’s meant to this city, the decision should belong to Buck Showalter. Many people argue that the Orioles need a fresh face in the dugout. But with someone as accomplished and tenured as Buck, you don’t just shove him out the door.

The Orioles will tonight open a short two-game set with the New York Mets at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner gets the call for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Jason Vargas. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Did Manny Machado hoodwink the Birds?

There’ll never come a time when I won’t believe that the beginnings of this year’s problems with the Baltimore Orioles didn’t come when they caved to Manny Machado‘s demands to play shortstop. This occurred during the winter meetings last year; Machado basically told Buck Showalter and company that he didn’t want to guard the hot corner any longer. And for one reason or another, the Orioles acquiesced to his demand.

I said at the time that was misguided, and I stand by that. I’m not sure what went into the decision to allow Manny to choose his position or who had the final say, but that’s what happened. If that was a message to Manny that the Orioles wanted to play ball and keep him, it certainly didn’t work – although the way the season has played out had a role in that also.

Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Machado is…playing third base regularly. Uh, excuse me?! Los Angeles’ regular third baseman, Justin Turner, is out with an injury. So in essence Machado’s just temporarily filling the role. However manager Dave Roberts made it clear that Manny kind of jumped at the chance to help (quote courtesy of Andy McCullough, L.A. Times):

He was traded here to be a shortstop, and we understand that. But the conversation that I’ve had with Manny last night was easy, and one that I anticipated, where he wanted to do whatever it was to help the ballclub, and help us win. I know he sees himself as a shortstop, as do we. But in this time, where Justin’s on the DL, it makes a lot of sense to have him play third.

In my view, that hardly sounds like the Manny Machado who informed the Orioles that he wanted to play shortstop instead of third. Granted when your team’s in a bind you try to do what you can to fill in. But here’s the flip side; Tim Beckham was injured for much of the first half, and he’s who replaced Machado at third base. Was there ever talk of Machado filling in at third with the Orioles?

It’s possible that Buck Showalter never approached him about it. It’s also possible that if he didn’t approach him about it, that was done because Buck had given Manny his word about playing shortstop. However all of that is provided that you aren’t needed elsewhere.

I’m not suggesting that Machado lollygagged through his time in Baltimore, or that he treated the Orioles overall like they didn’t matter. I’m just saying that he seemed to have no problem making the switch in L.A. now that he’s there. But literally given the exact same circumstances, that didn’t happen in Baltimore – for one reason or the other.

Baltimore Orioles: Alex Cobb looks for a win in his old digs

Alex Cobb will start for the Baltimore Orioles tonight in Tampa, looking for his fourth victory on the season. This is somewhat noteworthy given the fact that Cobb spent six seasons as a starter in Tampa. This will be his first game pitching as a visitor at Tampa’s Tropicana Field.

It’s always interesting to see how players across sports react in situations like these. Cobb is far from a former superstar returning to his old digs per se, but he had some great years with Tampa. But needless to say, this isn’t Peyton Manning playing in Indianapolis as a visitor, or Brett Favre in Green Bay.

However I suspect that it’ll feel strange for Cobb. The mound and the view from it around the park will appear very familiar to him. Yet when he looks down he’ll see himself in road gray as opposed to home whites. And the usually sparse crowd in Tampa will be rooting against him, not for him.

However once players go between the lines, it’s game on. It’s just baseball – one way or the other. And the Orioles are certainly hoping to ride to victory behind Cobb, who as I said will be on a familiar mound.

This is game one of three in Tampa at Tropicana Field. As I said, Alex Cobb gets the start for the Orioles; he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles fall short in the Bronx

As if today wasn’t tough enough for the Baltimore Orioles and their fans, the Birds took on the New York Yankees in the Bronx this evening. The suddenly devoid of big names Baltimore Orioles, that is. The O’s sent Yefry Ramirez to the mound at Yankee Stadium, and with mixed results at that. Ramirez’s line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Ramirez had some key moments with some good out pitches. He threw a couple of strike three’s on backdoor sliders that were fairly nasty. However he also gave up six runs. And that’s a problem.

New York won this game by getting runners on base. and that was done by being incredibly patient at the plate. They never allowed Ramirez to throw the pitches he wanted to throw, but they sat on the pitches that they wanted. Tough night for Ramirez, but that’s part of learning. And that’s what the Orioles are going to be going through for the foreseeable future.

New York took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI-single by Torres. True to form for the 2018 Orioles, this was partially due to a strange hop. The ball smacked off the mound and went into center field. How many run-scoring plays have the Orioles seen go against them this year with some strange little nuance as such?

Gregorius’ RBI-single in the third ran the score to 2-0, and two innings later it appeared that Ramirez was about to pitch out of a bases loaded jam with nobody out. Bird’s sac fly-RBI extended the lead to 3-0, however it was also the second out. However Andujar’s three-run homer closed the door on that, and the O’s trailed 6-0.

But the O’s did battle back. Jace Peterson‘s two-RBI single cut the New York lead to 6-2. Peterson would later score on a throwing error after stealing third. But that’s as close as they got, as New York’s bullpen closed the door.

Obviously however the news of the day was the Orioles in effect deconstructing the team almost in one fatal swoop. These are always tough days to stomach for players, coaches, and fans. Nobody embraces it’s players as theirs like Baltimore does. The trades made today and previously were necessary. That doesn’t mean that they were easy.

The series with New York concludes tomorrow afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Sonny Gray. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Consider the farm sold

If you thought the Baltimore Orioles weren’t going to do anything at the trade deadline, you were wrong. Starter Kevin Gausman and reliever Darren O’Day were traded to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that broke at approximately 3:15 PM. Just about 40 minutes later (just prior to the 4 PM deadline), second baseman Jonathan Schoop was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Let’s go trade by trade in terms of the return. For Gausman and O’Day, the Birds got RHP Evan Phillips, INF Jean Carlos Encarnacion, C Brett Cumberland, and LHP Bruce Zimmerman. They also received international signing bonus slots.

In return for Schoop, the O’s got RHP Luis Ortiz, INF Jean Carmona, and INF Jonathan Villar – the latter of which was previously on the DL and about to come off. Villar of course has been at the big league level with Milwaukee, and Houston before that. He’s under team control until 2021.

Regarding whether or not this was good return, that will have to remain to be seen. The Orioles didn’t get any top prospects per se in these trades. However they did get a big league infielder. Villar’s spent time both at short and second base. I suspect he’ll slide into the starting lineup as the second baseman in lieu of Schoop.

They also got international bonus slot money, which can’t be shoved under the rug. Ultimately, the Orioles saved about $30-$35 million in salary money between the rest of this year and next year. That’s a lot in savings. Now they have to hope that some of the prospects that have been acquired in the past couple of weeks hurry up and get to the big leagues. And that they’re good at their trades. Because that’s the true judgement of any trade – if it works out or not.

Baltimore Orioles: Looking more and more like Adam Jones will stay in Baltimore

The MLB trade deadline is at 4 PM this afternoon, and Baltimore Orioles fans have their eyes on Adam Jones. The center fielder’s contract of course is up after this season, and he’s a free agent. He also has the right to veto any trade due to his 10-and-5 rights. In essence, any player who’s been in the league for ten years and with the same team for five of those years can veto any trade.

And in a somewhat surprising move, Jones appears intent on invoking that de facto no trade clause so as to remain in Baltimore. It’s been stated time and time again that it at least outwardly appears that both parties are interested in Jones being an Oriole in 2019 and onward. GM Dan Duquette has been quoted as saying that he thinks Jones will be an Oriole after today.

This kind of comes across as a scenario in which both the Orioles and Jones could have their cake and eat it too. The Birds could trade Jones to a contender and get a couple of prospects back. Jones in turn would have a shot at competing for a ring. Then as a free agent after the season, he could re-sign with the Orioles. So is Jones doing a disservice to the organization and the fans by hanging on?

There are plenty of people who are going to look at it that way. But Jones is also wary of having to uproot his family, or spend more time away from them than he already does. Along with his wife and two kids, he lives in Baltimore and makes this his year-around home. He’s away from his family when the team’s on the road, but if he were traded he’d be away from them for the next two months plus.

Issues like that do make a difference. I would remind fans that Adam Jones has really been adopted by Baltimore as it’s own. Baltimore isn’t like New York or Los Angeles where mercenaries come, win them a title, and then sometimes depart. Baltimore really embraces it’s athletes, and Jones is a perfect example of that. Baltimore’s a part of who he is, and it’s helped him become the family man he is now.

I suppose I would say that yes in fact the organization could get better in the future if they had the liberty to deal Jones and get something back for him. And if he signs a new contract to remain here, it’s really no harm no foul, right? But you can’t begrudge Jones for not wanting to waive his 10-and-5 status for the reasons he’s publicly cited. As a father and husband, he has to follow his heart first.

The Orioles head to the Bronx tonight to open up a short two-game set with New York. Yefry Ramirez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Masahiro Tanaka. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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