Baltimore Orioles: New York has interest in Manny Machado

It was reported yesterday during the Baltimore Orioles’ doubleheader with New York that the Yankees have contacted the O’s about trading for Manny Machado. The Orioles are listening to offers from plenty of other clubs, however New York certainly is interested. They’re also interested in Zach BrittonBrad Brach, and perhaps a couple of starters.

I’ve said before that I think it’s an incredibly risky move to trade a player of Machado’s caliber within the division. He may well find his way to the Bronx one way or the other (via free agency), but the fact is that teams make trades to better themselves – either now or in the future. The Orioles shouldn’t be in the business of helping New York better themselves.

Now having said that, if some of the above-mentioned players were packaged together to get a nice return, perhaps the Orioles consider it. But even still, there’s a caveat. If the O’s are going to trade with New York, they should get a higher return than they would if they were going to trade with Los Angeles, Chicago, or Milwaukee. In essence, New York should expect to get squeezed as opposed to just making “a nice deal.”

So if Los Angeles was going to offer two prospects, the Orioles would ask for three from New York. Some would say that’s unfair, and a lousy way to do business. That’s up to the beholder, however when it comes to trading a player like Machado to a division rival you don’t want to just win the trade. You want to win the trade running away.

My personal opinion is that he won’t go to New York. Although it certainly would be easy in the sense that he could just switch clubhouses. However keep in mind that New York seems to buy low and sell high. They obtained the likes of Judge for fairly cheap. That can’t be allowed to happen if they’re going to do business with the Orioles.

For now, the O’s should probably be thanking New York for getting into the fray. Because teams such as Los Angeles or Milwaukee now know that they may have to up the ante a bit. Whereas previously if the deal was two players and then went to three when New York got involved, they may need to offer four now. So the Orioles can in essence use New York to get a better deal, but if they’re going to ship Manny to the Bronx they’d better get much better return than they would have gotten from another team. Am I saying that different teams should get different rules? That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Baltimore Orioles drop nightcap

For the Baltimore Orioles’ sake it’s a good thing they won the first game of yesterday’s twin bill. New York seemed to be a team on a mission in game two. Although more often than not it seems that teams split doubleheaders, so perhaps the Birds were all but guaranteed a win yesterday.

Yefry Ramirez ended up getting knocked around a bit, and he took the loss. Ramirez’s line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Ramirez did show a bit of poise, as his change up was getting over for a strike. However New York was still able to get to him and touch him up for four runs. Ramirez of course came from New York’s system, and he addressed facing his former team after the game (quote courtesy of Steve Melewski, MASNsports):

It felt good to face them, even though I wanted to have a really good game so I could show them that they lost a really good player. But things didn’t work out my way. I think I wasn’t able to command my fastball at all. I missed some sliders, as well. The combination of that didn’t lead to good results today. I will take this as a learning opportunity and growing experience. Get feedback from the veteran guys and hopefully I can have better success in the next starts.

Before the Orioles had even recorded an out in the first inning New York already had a lead on Gregorius’ RBI-double. Gardner’s two-run homer in the fourth extended that lead to 3-0. Incidentally, the Orioles hit several balls deep and all around the outfield, including one very late that appeared to be a home run. Gardner chased them all down.

Gardner’s always been a gamer and he’s always been consistent throughout his career. He doesn’t say much, but lets his playing speak for him, which is a great trait in baseball. It’s just frustrating from the Orioles’ perspective to see every hard-hit ball get chased down in spectacular form, but yet opponents reach base on softly hit bloopers. Is less really more?!

New York would extend their lead to 5-0 on Bird’s RBI-single in the fifth, and Romine would add a two-run homer in the eighth. By the time the smoke cleared and the game was over, New York put ten runs across on Oriole pitching. The Birds would get two back on an eighth inning two-run homer by Tim Beckham, his second home run of the season. (Keeping in mind of course that Beckham’s missed much of the first part of the year.)

Again, most doubleheaders end up being split. And that’s what happened yesterday in Baltimore. The Orioles following the game returned Jimmy Yacabonis to triple-A Norfolk. Yacabonis had been the Birds’ 26th man, as allowed by major league rules for doubleheaders.

The series with New York continues this evening at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Masahiro Tanaka. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Bingo, Bango, Bongo goes Danny Valencia!

The Baltimore Orioles needed a game in which they came back to win. In the first game of a twin bill late this afternoon against New York at home, they got exactly that. They Birds got a good start of of Jimmy Yacabonis, although he didn’t get a decision in the game. But it begins and ends with starting pitching, and the Birds got what they needed out of him this afternoon. Yacabonis’ line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

New York took an early 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Stanton in the second inning. One inning later RBI-singles by Judge and Gregorius gave New York a 3-0 lead. The O’s had their work cut out for them, however for once the long ball ended up being on their side.

Following a Machado double, Mark Trumbo came to the plate in the last of the fourth. And he slugged the Orioles right back into the ballgame, smacking a two-run homer which cut the New York lead to 3-2. That was a bit of a momentum swinger for the Orioles, and normally it’s the type of momentum swing that we see work against them. However for once it worked in their favor, giving them a fighting chance to win.

But they ended up having to work from further behind later on. Walker’s RBI-single in the sixth gave New York a 4-2 lead, and appeared to be an early insurance run. But these O’s weren’t done – not by a long shot, at least in this game. We know that nothing good happens after a walk. New York’s Sabathia walked the first hitter in the last of the sixth, bringing the tying run to the plate…

…and as we’ve seen happen to the O’s in the past, sometimes that one little thing snowballs an inning. I wouldn’t say that’s what happened per se, but it all did work in the Orioles’ favor. Schoop got aboard on a double, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Danny Valencia

…who didn’t disappoint. Valencia’s three-run homer gave the O’s a 5-4 lead, their first of the afternoon against New York. And that folks was a huge thing, both for the team, and for Valencia – who had been scuffling for a could of weeks. Zach Britton allowed the tying run to get to third base in the top of the ninth, but in the end he didn’t break. And the Orioles were victorious in game one thanks to Danny Valencia going yard.

Game two of the twin bill is this evening at Camden Yards. Yefry Ramirez gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Luis Cessa. Game time is set for…just a few moments from when this is being written!

Baltimore Orioles: It all fell apart at once

The Baltimore Orioles had a shot to win yesterday behind starter Alex Cobb. And then suddenly, they didn’t. Cobb allowed a big homer, left the game with a blister on his throwing hand, AND the O’s seemingly threw their collective hands up and seemed to say oh well what are you going to do – all at about the same time. Cobb’s line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R (4 earned), 1 BB, 5 K.

The Orioles put a couple of runners on base in the first inning, but failed to do anything. Chris Davis was called out on strikes on a questionable strike three. But nevertheless it was an opportunity squandered.

Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the last of the fifth on Garver’s two-run homer, and then doubled their lead an inning later on a two-run shot by Escobar. Prior to recording an out in that sixth inning, Minnesota would proceed to load the bases. Now the sole benefit to the defense with the bases loaded is that you have a force at every base. So with that in mind, Garver grounded a ball right to Manny Machado at short, who threw the ball home.

Throwing home in that situation is the right play, because you always want to cut the run off if you can. However Machado’s throw short-hopped the plate, and a run scored. If you need further evidence that this team is snakebitten for some reason, there it is. Machado, who later in the evening was named a starter in the all-star game, couldn’t make that play, a run scored, the bases were still loaded, AND there was still nobody out.

Not only that, but Cave’s subsequent RBI-single scored a run and kept the bases loaded with nobody out. Minnesota found ways to either hit the ball hard enough or just softly enough to find grass between Orioles’ fielders in this series and this game. Yet all of the Orioles’ hard-hit balls found mitts. So goes the season I suppose.

Polanco would score a run on a fielder’s choice-RBI, and Dozier would then clear the bases with a three-run homer. When the inning finally ended, Minnesota led 10-0. Chris Davis would smack a solo home run for the O’s in the ninth inning to keep them away from a shutout, but all in all a 10-1 loss is a pretty ugly Sunday.

There was an element of whatever the Orioles did was futile in this series and in this game. Even when an out seemed inevitable, their all-star shortstop bounced a throw to the plate. Yet the likes of Cave and others would just softly dump hits behind the infielders where nobody could get to them, or the likes of Polanco would just hit against the shift. Has to be frustrating.

The Orioles now return home and will play a doubleheader against New York starting late this afternoon. Jimmy Yacabonis gets the start for the Orioles in game one, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s CC Sabathia. Game time is set for just after 4 PM. (This is a traditional doubleheader, meaning two games for the price of one. Game two will begin roughly 20-30 minutes after the completion of game one.)

Baltimore Orioles: Could the players have been more accountable?

The Baltimore Orioles got themselves off to an early lead yesterday, and starter Kevin Gausman was dealing early. Things appeared to be looking up in this particular game. That is, until they weren’t. Gausman’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

The O’s manufactured a run early in the first inning, scoring on an RBI-groundout by Manny Machado. Later in that first inning Chris Davis smacked a two-run homer. And as I said, things looked up.

Gausman mowed Minnesota hitters down, until he started allowing base runners in the fourth inning. This continued into the fifth when Kepler smacked a solo homer, and Wilson an RBI-single. Gausman went from pitching a good game to being on the ropes in a matter of minutes. Later in that inning he loaded the bases, and Cave scored on a wild pitch. One inning later Wilson’s RBI-double would give Minnesota a 5-3 lead.

The timing of the Minnesota run does play a role, as it was the second (and third) time through the order. Gausman fooled them the first time through, but they apparently picked up on something he was doing, and he couldn’t replicate that. Late in the game the Birds did try to make a run of it on an RBI-double by Jace Peterson, but it was too little too late.

One thing of interest; anyone who follows the Washington Nationals knows that they were suddenly having their lunch handed to them until the middle of this past week. They held a players only meeting, and since then it’s been smooth sailing so to speak. They even rebounded from being down 9-1 to beat Miami 14-9 on Thursday. Now that in and of itself is probably an anomaly. But that team’s really picked it up since then.

Did the Orioles’ veterans miss an opportunity to do something like that earlier in the year? We know that Buck Showalter held at least one meeting in which the team was in effect rebuked for their poor play earlier in the season. However I’m not talking about him or any of the other coaches. I’m talking about the veterans on the roster; the Jones’, Davis’, and heck even the Machado’s of the world.

Granted, we don’t know that anything like that never happened. It well could have, although usually when players only meetings occur in sports they’re publicized in the media. (This so fans get the message that the players are trying to do something to fix the problem.) Again, something along these lines could have happened, and it just wasn’t made public.

But let’s assume that it didn’t; why didn’t it? There was certainly a point very early on this season when it was obvious that something was going south, and perhaps an opportunity existed to right the ship. I can’t tell you what goes on in these meetings, because I’m not a player. I can’t even tell you how effective they are overall – because I’m not a player. However I tend to think that perhaps an opportunity was lost there if in fact there was nothing like that arranged. And if something did occur, it was ineffective.

And here’s another point; far too much is still being made about Showalter not using Zach Britton in the 2016 AL Wild Card game. Many fans point to that as the moment things started going south for the Orioles. Now seriously I want people to think about this; does it really make sense that Showalter’s decision in one game (albeit a big one) in October of 2016 is causing Chris Davis to strike out so much? Or errors in the field?

National media reports have said that players lost faith in Showalter after that. I maintain that had I been Showalter I would have considered the same move. What if you get the lead later in the game and you need your closer but he’s already been used? Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but at the time I didn’t feel it was the worst thing.

That aside, if one decision in one game forces players to lose faith in a manager who’s done more for this franchise than anyone else in recent history, I’m not sure what to say. It comes off as a little fickle to me. Furthermore let’s say that they have lost faith in Showalter. Again, is that in and of itself causing strikeouts and errors? Are guys purposely goofing off in a sense BECAUSE of Showalter?

The answer to that has to be no. Even if faith was lost in their leader, I think these guys are still professionals. They still play with pride in a sense, and are doing everything they can to win games. For whatever reason, they’re just falling short.

The O’s will try to salvage one game in this series in the finale this afternoon at Target Field. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Jake Odorizzi. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

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’ Dylan Bundy struggles and Minnesota squashes all rallies

Dylan Bundy struggled in his return to the Baltimore Orioles from the DL last night in Minnesota. Bundy’s line: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R (5 earned), 1 BB, 2 K. Bundy had command issues all night, in his first start in nearly two weeks since injuring himself running the bases in Atlanta. He left some pitches elevated, and Minnesota hitters took advantage of it.

The fact that Minnesota put a damper on almost every rally the Orioles attempted didn’t help matters. And it started literally on the first pitch, which Tim Beckham sent deep to center field – the deepest part of the park. It was a home run…until Minnesota’s Cave climbed the wall and brought it back in. That really set the tone for the game.

And as I’ve said before, your opponents always seem to get fat on what you leave behind. Or more specifically, they don’t let you off the hook. Minnesota put two runners on in the last of the first, and Dozier’s RBI-single scored a run. However Beckham couldn’t handle the throw from the outfield at third base, and the ball kicked into the dugout. This allowed another run to score, and Dozier to get to third base. He would later score on a Polanco RBI-single – which was hit against the shift.

And that’s another underlying theme for the Orioles defensively this year. They have to lead the league in having guys produce against the shift against them. These infield shifts are used because the spray charts on players league-wide indicate that they hit the ball to certain areas of the field more so than other places. But when they play the Orioles, somehow they’re able to work against those numbers and hit ’em where they ain’t.

Bundy would give up a two-run homer to Kepler and an RBI-single to Mauer in the fourth. However just prior to that the Birds had loaded the bases in the top of the inning, and Minnesota found a way out of the jam. And once again the Orioles paid for what they left behind. They would get an RBI-single from Chris Davis in the sixth, and another run on an error in the seventh.

However later in that seventh inning Tim Beckham was thrown out at home plate after being sent by Bobby Dickerson at third. It was a questionable decision by Dickerson, as it came on a medium-depth grounder to left field. But nevertheless, it was another example of Minnesota being able to stop an Oriole rally. The Birds would still find a way to get a couple of runners on base in the ninth, but again the rally fell short.

The Orioles are past the point where they were only getting two or three hits a game. They’re putting men on base, which is obviously a good thing. However they’re continually unable to get them home, save for the home run ball. And somehow opposing teams have all found a way to prevent that from happening so frequently. Again however, the fact that they appeared to have a home run on the first pitch and were robbed didn’t help matters.

The series continues this afternoon at Target Field. Kevin Gausman gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson. Game time is set for just after 2 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Andrew Cashner’s error grounds the Birds

Andrew Cashner pitched the Baltimore Orioles to another quality start last night. The only problem was that it was his error which played a major role in a couple of Minnesota runs, which ultimately proved to be too steep a wall to climb for the O’s. Cashner’s line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 earned), 2 BB, 3 K.

With the score still tied at zero, Minnesota put a runner at second following a lead off double with nobody out. Wilson then grounded to Chris Davis at first; Davis fielded the ball between first and second, and Cashner ran to cover the bag. All in all, it appeared to be a fairly routine play, which was going to leave a runner at third with one out.

However keep in mind that these fairly routine plays have bitten the Orioles where the sun don’t shine all season long. While Minnesota outfielders made numerous diving catches to save base runners and runs all night long, Cashner muffed the Davis throw to first. Wilson ended up at second, and a run ended up scoring.

It’s play like that which have snakebitten the Birds all year long. And it baffles the mind why they keep happening. It’s easy to say that they don’t pay enough attention to detail and so forth, but that’s not true. Human errors are going to happen, even to professionals. That much we know. However the Orioles seem to be a sponge of sorts for these types of occurrences. They soak up all of the bad stuff so that there’s nothing left for the other teams.

Rosario’s RBI-single later in the inning would score Wilson, leaving the Birds trailing 2-0. On a side note, that goes as an earned run to Cashner. It would have only been unearned had there been two outs when the error occurred. I would argue that the run should still be unearned due to the fact that the error put Wilson in scoring position. Again, just a sidebar.

To make matters worse, Morrison homered one inning later and the Birds trailed 3-0. But they tried to make a game of it – they just couldn’t pull it off. Jonathan Schoop smacked solo homers in consecutive at-bats in the fifth and seventh innings, cutting the lead to 3-2. So in essence, the O’s were in the game. But Kepler’s RBI-single and Cave’s RBI-double in the eighth sealed the deal for Minnesota, who went onto win 5-2.

The margin for error for this team is basically nothing. They simply couldn’t overcome that third inning error. All things being the same mind you, the O’s still would have lost this game 3-2. But you can’t always assume that all things would have been the same. That error put the Orioles in a here we go again mentality, which lingered throughout the whole game.

The series continues this evening from Target Field in Minneapolis. Dylan Bundy (who will have to be activated off of the DL, meaning that a roster move looms) gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Lance Lynn. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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: Chris Davis gave a little too much brotherly love

Chris Davis has been a topic for the Baltimore Orioles this year for all the wrong reasons. Offensively he’s fallen off the map, although he’s been marginally better since sitting out for eight games. Marginally better. But for the most part his defense has been solid – until today, that is.

The Orioles started Yefry Ramirez, who did what a started is supposed to do; he put his team in a spot to win. He didn’t get the quality start because he didn’t go six innings, however he certainly pitched a quality outing today one way or the other. Ramirez’s line: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R (1 earned), 2 BB, 4 K. Again, quality start or not, Ramirez mowed ’em down while he was in this afternoon’s Fourth of July game.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Adam Jones split the defense in the power alley in left center, allowing a runner to score from first base. And that lead stood up for a couple of innings. Oriole pitching held Philadelphia in check for the most part in this series. They’re a high-powered team, but the O’s held them in check.

But some things can’t be helped on the part of a pitcher. Ramirez put two runners in scoring position in the last of the fifth with one down. Alfaro grounded a routine ball to Chris Davis at first base. For a split second, that appeared to be a key out for the Orioles. Because the runner at third wouldn’t have been able to advance, and it would have been the second out. The O’s were probably poised to walk the next hitter to get to the pitcher, Nola – which would have been all but a sure out.

However the ball slid under Davis’ mitt at first, and into the outfield. Two runs scored, and Philadelphia took the lead at 2-1. Now as has been said all season, things happen with runners on base and when the ball’s put in play. However that’s a play that has to be made on Chris Davis’ part. This isn’t to say that Davis is now a poor defending first baseman either, because I don’t think that’s the case. I think he made a bad mistake, which led to things going south in this game for the Orioles.

Philadelphia would add a two-run homer by Williams in the last of the seventh, and the O’s never threatened after that. Wins and losses are always a team effort. So again not all of this should be put on Chris Davis. However a mistake like that does tend to stand out, especially when it directly relinquished the lead to the opponent.

The Orioles will now head to Minnesota for a four-game set. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Aaron Slegers. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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