A new era of Baltimore Orioles’ baseball dawns this week. On Thursday to be exact. Certainly manager Brandon Hyde and GM Mike Elias are the faces of that new era – for now. Ideally however, that will change.
Orioles fans are still used to the likes of Adam Jones being the face of the team. But those are the Birds of yesteryear. Ideally the new face of the team should be Cedric Mullins. But…is there a rule that says it has to be the center fielder?
The answer to that of course is no. Jones wasn’t the face of the team because he played center field. It happened organically, which is how it should be. Jones was the right guy for this team at the right time. You have to hope that someone on the roster now or someone who’ll be on the roster very soon takes up that mantle.
There was a lot of controversy over the Orioles deciding to leave much of their young talent in the minor leagues – for now. Many fans critical of that decision are saying that they’re opting to go with “AAAA talent” instead of having young stars in the big leagues. GM Mike Elias would probably respond, guilty as charged.
The Orioles didn’t do anything that I didn’t expect them to do. In fact, think back to some of the trades they made last year. For instance, as great of a prospect as Yusniel Diaz appears to be (and he had a great spring), former GM Dan Duquette all but admitted that neither he nor anyone else was probably big league ready. That may or may not be the case as the season goes on. But for now, the Orioles’ brass has decided that the young players are where they need to be.
The last thing that anyone is going to want is for them to rush guys to the big leagues before they’re ready. That’s a great way to not only ruin someone’s career, but also ruin the rebuild process. Furthermore the O’s have been up front about the fact that this is a long process. Trust that process.
One way or the other, this is the dawn of a new era in Birdland. The era of Showalter, Jones, Machado, Hardy, et al, will always be special to the fans of Baltimore. It was a magical time in Birdland. But you have to move on when the time comes. If the process is allowed to proceed properly, the era of Hyde, Mullins, Diaz, and Mancini could well be just as special.
The Baltimore Orioles announced this week that for the second consecutive season, kids will be able to “cheer free” at Camden Yards in 2019. Fans might remember that this was a thing last year. In essence, with the purchase of an adult ticket you get two tickets for kids nine and under for free.
The Angelos family began this initiative not as a means to drive attendance. However they want kids to have the opportunity to experience the game up close and in person. That’s how you get people into the fray early, and eventually they’ll grow up and love the sport and bring their own kids. The idea was widely praised league-wide.
Fans can visit the Kids Cheer Free website to purchase tickets. This offer applies to any game that isn’t Opening Day. However it’s only valid while supplies last. So get on there and get your tickets so you can bring your kids out!
The Baltimore Orioles were rained out this afternoon against Minnesota. For what it’s worth, the game will not be made up. While it’s one less game to evaluate players, it’s also one less game in which someone could get hurt. Especially in the final week of camp.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Orioles handle the final roster. They currently have Pedro Araujo on the roster. He has to remain on the active big league roster for 16 days before his Rule 5 status expires. If he’s demoted, the Orioles would lose his services.
My personal opinion is that Araujo isn’t ready to be a full time big leaguer. I think he has potential and could well be there one day, just not now. But…is it worth the Orioles losing him over a matter of 16 days?
I say no. Araujo’s worth keeping in the organization. Plus, the Orioles have two off days in the first week of the season. That means that the Orioles won’t need a fifth starter out of the gate.
On this, the only off day in camp, there’s news about a former member of the Baltimore Orioles. It appears that Adam Jones has landed. Last night the news broke that Jones had apparently agreed to a one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, worth $3 million guaranteed.
Jones will join another former Oriole, catcher Caleb Joseph, in Arizona with the Diamondbacks. I think this is a good situation for Jones, as he’s going to a team that believes it’s ready to contend now. Obviously Jones is a veteran, he’s a proven leader on and off the field, and he has post season experience. So odds are this is a very good match.
When I heard the news I admittedly thought back to that day last autumn – the last day. The moment that Jones was lifted in the top of the ninth inning to a well-deserved Standing O is one that I think will be remembered for some time in Baltimore circles. Adam Jones will always be an Oriole, regardless of which colors he’s wearing.
Obviously this kind of works out for Orioles fans also in that he’s going to a National League team. He won’t be competing with the Orioles per se, although the Birds do visit Arizona this year. However it certainly won’t for the most part be the Orioles that Jones knew with a few exceptions – the Davis’, Trumbo’s, etc of the world.
I hope that Orioles fans will join me in wishing Adam Jones the best in Arizona. Baseball is a better game with him in it, and as a starter at that. For what it’s worth, Orioles fans will in theory get a shot to see Jones play in person in the region this year. Arizona comes to Nationals Park in Washington on June 13-16th. And incidentally, does anyone recall who the first manager in Arizona Diamondbacks’ history was? That would be BUCK SHOWALTER!
The Baltimore Orioles recently had radio announcer Joe Angel retire. Angel was an institution among Orioles fans, and he definitely had what they call the “golden pipes” behind the mic. However when Angel first came to the Orioles (in the first of his three stunts), he was working with a name that was and still is legendary: the great Chuck Thompson.
I do a tribute column to Chuck Thompson every year in Spring Training. Simply put, Chuck was the best. THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN THE BUSINESS. His name wasn’t as well know perhaps as the likes of a Vin Scully, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, or Mel Allen. But he was Baltimore’s version of those guys – and THAT made him the best!
I was only privileged to hear Thompson towards the end of his storied career, mainly while he worked part-time for the Orioles. However his prowess behind the mic was no less prevalent than in his heyday. He had that smooth delivery and that conversational tone that made you feel like he was describing the game for you in your living room.
And his trademarks – who could forget that?! The title of this article is an obvious play on his best-known catchphrase, ain’t the beer cold?! That would come out anytime the Orioles would win. During a game if they would make a frat play, Chuck would drag out his other catchphrase, go to war, Ms. Agnes! Allegedly that was an ode to an old race horse named the Ms. Agnes. When you use either one of those phrases with people of a certain age in Baltimore, they know exactly to what and to whom you are referring.
Part of the reason that Chuck Thompson and so many others (such as the names I mentioned above) were so special to Baltimore and their respective cities is because radio is how people followed the games. Often times they weren’t televised. And if they were, it might only be one game a week – which may or may not have featured your team.
So the voice of Chuck Thompson was how fans followed the Orioles. The same is true of Harry Kalas in Philadelphia, Jack Brickhouse in Chicago, and Red Barber in Brooklyn. They were the voices of baseball, and thus the voices of summertime – good times, vacation, etc. That’s powerful.
Many of the Orioles’ games aired on Home Team Sports by the time this 80’s kid came along. For the most part, one game per series would appear on over-the-air television (with two on HTS). However I also had a father who famously and out of principle refused to pay the nominal up charge to include HTS in our cable package. So I spent a lot of nights and afternoons listening to games on the radio. In that sense I’m somewhat of a throwback to previous generations, as those voices with whom I grew up mean something to me.
I found it ironic a few years ago when the O’s were down in DC to play the Washington Nationals on Memorial Day. My route to the ballpark that day took me through a Washington Harbor, where I noticed a large boat docked near The Sequoia (the former Presidential Yacht). The boat was named The Miss Agnes, and it was listed as being from Baltimore. As a kid who grew up listening to Chuck Thompson call games on the radio, I got a kick out of that. It was also cool to see in Washington, because Thompson called Washington Senators games for a few years in the early 1960’s.
We’re still here Chuck, keeping the beer cold one draft at a time!
One of the more unsung stories of camp thus far for the Baltimore Orioles might be Mike Wright Jr. Wright got the start today against Pittsburgh, and turned in another great effort. Wright’s line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K.
Mike Wright’s appeared in four games this spring. He’s yet to give up a run, and has seven strikeouts. Needless to say, he’s been pretty darned impressive. However as he said after the game, he’s unsure of which role (reliever or starter) for which he’s auditioning (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
I’m still in the (mode of) whatever role is what it is. Right now I was on four days’ rest, so the fifth day, that’s exciting. But moving forward I’m going to continue doing the same thing I’ve been doing and try to make the team.
Again needless to say, he’s been doing all the right things. Or the Wright things.
The O’s took the lead in the second inning this afternoon on Alcides Escobar‘s RBI-single. One inning later it was 2-0 on an RBI-single by Rio Ruiz. Toss in Steve Wilkerson‘s fifth inning solo homer, and the O’s led 3-0.
However Pittsburgh would put up two solo homers in the fifth, and and two in the seventh. That gave them a 4-3 lead, once again proving the idea that solo homers won’t beat you. The Orioles has to lead the league in defensive games which ended up being losses, highlighted by the opponent’s solo homers last year.
However in this instance it wasn’t truly the solo homers that beat the Orioles. Because the Birds came back and tied the game in the top of the eighth on Anthony Santander‘s RBI-single. So to their credit, they didn’t allow that flurry of solo home runs to beat them.
The walk off home run in the last of the ninth by Tucker did that. Granted, it was a solo homer. However a walk off’s a walk off. It’s a luxury afforded to the home team.
But that doesn’t take away from Mike Wright and his prowess this spring. No runs and seven strike out’s in four appearances is impressive. That said, we’re not quite halfway through camp. He has to keep it up if he wants that roster spot.
The Orioles will return to home play at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota tomorrow as Boston comes to visit for the first time this spring. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Darwinzon Hernandez. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.
Alex Cobb got the start this afternoon for the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota against Pittsburgh. Cobb himself showed marked improvement from his last outing, although the O’s fell to Pittsburgh. Cobb’s line: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
The lone run Cobb surrendered was on an RBI-double by Frazier in the third inning. Again, this was a much better outing than what he turned in last time out. That should give Orioles fans hope.
Stevie Wilkerson‘s sac fly-RBI in the last of the fourth tied the game at one. Later in the inning Jace Peterson‘s RBI-single gave the O’s the lead at 2-1. However Pittsburgh turned in a big inning in the fifth, and when the smoke cleared they held a 6-2 lead.
In effect, Pittsburgh kept the pressure on the Orioles, which is why they won this afternoon.’a game at Ed Smith Stadium. Most of that cake well after the starters had exited the game. But the Orioles are going to need to stay out of the big inning this year if they’re going to compete.
Alex Cobb said after coming out that he felt better on the mound, which was obvious by the results (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
First time out there it’s really difficult to prepare for. You throw as many bullpens and sim games and whatever, but once you get on the mound the game speeds up on you. I feel like I’m old enough now to where it shouldn’t be speeding up on me, but it did a little bit in that first game. You tend to leave some balls up and over the plate and they get hit.
The Orioles has to scratch Chris Davis from the lineup today, as he apparently strained a hip flexor on Sunday against Detroit. It doesn’t appear to be a serious injury7, but just precautionary to keep him out of the lineup. He could be available for tomorrow’s trip to Port Charlotte to take on the Tampa Rays.
The Orioles will in fact head to Port Charlotte tomorrow to take on Tampa. John Means gets the start for the Birds, and at this moment Tampa is yet to announce a starter. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.
The Baltimore Orioles defeated Boston for the second time in a week this afternoon at JetBlue Lark in Ft. Myers. If Tampa’s had the Orioles’ number thus far, the Birds have had Boston’s. Again, not that it matters. Mike Wright Jr. got the start, and again pitched very well. Wright’s line: 3.0 IP, 3, H, 0 R, 1, BB, 2 K.
Stevie Wilkerson got the Orioles on the board in the top of the second with a two-RBI single. The message of this game once again is to get guys on base and good things will happen. Boston did get a homer in the fourth by Bogaerts, however it was a solo shot.
That 2-1 score held up for awhile, but the O’s broke it open in the fifth when Carlos Perez smacked a two-RBI double. One inning later Richie Martin and Drew Jackson added RBI-singles. And before you knew it the Orioles were piling on.
DJ Stewart would add a two-RBI double in the seventh and Zach Vincej an RBI-single in the ninth, giving the O’s a 9-1 victory. As I alluded above, the O’s haven’t seemingly been hitting as many homers in this spring. And that’s actually being done by design. The power will still be there eventually in some manner. However as I said above, if you get guys on base, good things can happen.
Regarding Mike Wright, you might notice he’s the first Orioles’ starter to go longer than two innings in this camp. Interpret as you wish; Wright’s in the competition to get into the back end of the rotation. Wright on the multiple innings (all quotes courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
A lot of times I feel better as the game goes on. It was pretty warm, so I was pretty loose, even in the first, and it feels good to go multiple innings and really get out there.
Wright went on about trying to make the team:
I’m trying to make a spot on the team, so I think the intensity is there regardless of who steps up to the plate. And honestly, there’s a lot of guys behind me trying to make the team, too. You saw Richie (Martin), the way he was playing. If I didn’t bring the intensity the way they’re bringing it, it wouldn’t be fair.
It’s good to see Wright bringing that intensity. His focus appears to be on making the team. This as opposed to being in the rotation. However make no mistake, he wants to be a starting pitcher. And to this point, he’s making a great case to have that spot on the roster.
The Orioles return home to Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow afternoon to take on the Detroit Tigers. Andrew Cashner makes his first start of the spring for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Matthew Boyd. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.
I maintain what I wrote yesterday in my game recap about the Baltimore Orioles’ 11-5 loss to Tampa. The Birds had the lead, but well after the veterans and “regular players” had departed, Tampa dropped ten runs on the Orioles’ bullpen in the eighth inning. (I use the quotes on regular players because in some instances we don’t know who the regulars are going to be as of yet.) To reiterate that again, it’s just not a big deal. These games don’t count, and again nobody of any consequence for the regular season was in the game.
But is that attitude in and of itself part of the problem? And could it be part of why the Orioles found themselves rushing a rebuild mid-year last season as opposed to playing out the final year of what should have been a window to compete? Interesting question.
Even when the Orioles were in their heyday under the likes of Buck, Jones, Davis, Machado, et al, teams such as Tampa always gave them a run for their money. A big time run for their money, in fact. I’m using Tampa as a specific example, however there are a few other teams in this category. They’ve always remained young, and they’ve always remained hungry. And again, they’ve always been a thorn in the Orioles’ side – no matter what the records.
Young people are always going to be hungry when they’re getting their feet wet in their careers. I suppose exuberance is a fair term to use. Teams such as Tampa have always had that about them. The Orioles…not so much. The Orioles have always been more about veteran leadership and people who already knew what they were doing. As opposed to guys who were learning on the job. Until now, that is.
So again, have the O’s done it all wrong up to this point, and are they thus doing it right now? The answer is no on both points. Young players are exciting, and yes there does usually happen to be a certain never say die attitude about them. How often did we see innings such as what we saw yesterday during the 2018 season? By the end of the inning the veteran Orioles seemed to be all but beaten into submission. Because guys knew that you just don’t come back from a ten-run inning.
Instead, what did we see out of the young O’s yesterday? Ryan Mountcastle extended a single into a double to lead off the last of the eighth, and he was driven home by an RBI-single by Anthony Santander. Because young people haven’t been beaten down a bit yet, their attitudes are still fresh and they’re still thinking you have to start the comeback somewhere. This as opposed to a seasoned veteran, who’s probably going to play it safe and focus more on not getting hurt in a game that’s already out of control. Young people have the audacity to believe anything is possible, whereas veterans know not to hedge their bets.
I suppose I’m not making the case that veterans are better than youth very well, am I? Here’s the difference; it’s all well and good to be stocked full of youth and have guys who are hungry to win. However talent and experience will generally top that at the highest levels. There are exceptions of course, the 2018 Orioles being a glaring one.
Ultimately I think you can win some games if you have the audacity of youth on your side for sure. Not only that, but you can step up and surprise some people – the way that the 2018 Tampa Rays did. But when push comes to shove, is the audacity of youth going to be enough to win you a World Series? Is that going to be enough to defeat a group of wiry veterans who’ve been together since time immemorial in a playoff elimination game?
The other question I posed is whether or not the Orioles are now doing things the right way. I said above that they weren’t – right? In saying that I mean that even though they’re going through all the processes the correct way, they still have to choose the right players. At some point you have to get young and build from the bottom – which is what the Orioles are doing. But if you build with the wrong players, it’s pointless.
It wasn’t so much that the Birds were doing things wrong before, and that they’re now doing them right. A generation of Orioles’ baseball ended last year when the team got broken up. A new generation is beginning now. Ideally your franchise should have peaks and valleys. Hopefully if the Orioles are doing things properly, the valley will be short-lived. Eventually the young players become veterans. And yes while perhaps the audacity of youth is gone, the steady hand of experience takes it’s place.
This afternoon the Baltimore Orioles are going to play the biggest baseball game in the history of western civilization. Well, for this year anyways. Note the sarcasm, folks. However no matter how you spin it, this is a day that’s been earmarked in Birdland for some time.
The first spring game is about as meaningless as the final one, but starting today we’re going to start to see what kind of Orioles’ team we’re going to have in 2019. We’re also going to see what kind of manager Brandon Hyde is going to be in games. For what it’s worth, most of Minnesota’s regulars will be staying back in Ft. Myers today, as it’s a split squad day for them. They’ll be taking on Tampa this evening at home – not that too many regulars would have made the trip to Sarasota anyways.)
There are a lot of moving parts, however while the results don’t matter, how the games unfold do. That’ll go a long way towards telling us who’ll be on the roster come Opening Day. And as I’ve said before, when players put on a uniform, they play to win.
Fans can follow me on twitter, @domenicvadala, for in-game updates of today’s game, as well as for every spring game. That of course extends into the regular season also – basically from today until October I’ve got you squared! And of course following every game you can hop on here to Birdland Crush for game recaps and analysis.
So again, Grapefruit League Play begins this afternoon when the Minnesota Twins visit Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Yefry Ramirez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Chase De Jong. Game time is set for just after 1 PM this afternoon.