Author Archive

Baltimore Orioles Players Who Are in Serious Danger of Being Cut or Demoted

It’s an exciting time for baseball fans.

Spring training games around MLB have begun, as fans now have the privilege of witnessing somewhat meaningful baseball for the first time since the World Series.

The Baltimore Orioles are hoping that the spring exhibition schedule provides some answers for the team’s roster construction. As much of the roster is already set and most players tend to know their roles, there are still a few openings and some questions to be solved.

Manager Buck Showalter will use his time this spring wisely to determine who deserves to head to Tampa Bay with the O’s for Opening Day on April 6.

Unfortunately for some guys, that means that they’re at risk of being cut or demoted by the team. But that’s the business, and the O’s are going to break camp with the best 25 ballplayers that they have.

Let’s take a look at some players who are at risk of being cut or demoted by the O’s due to the nature of roster battles in spring camp.

Begin Slideshow

Baltimore Orioles’ 4 Biggest Missed Opportunities of the Offseason

The Baltimore Orioles had a fantastic 2014 season, as they won their division and went to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1997.

After experiencing success and entering the offseason with just a few players hitting the free-agent market, fans hoped to see the O’s jump on their window of opportunity and build their roster for an even deeper postseason run in 2015.

Unfortunately, the offseason was probably the opposite of what Birdland was hoping to see. The team lost veterans Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller, and the biggest name it added was Travis Snider.

That, coupled with the ugly rumors that surrounded Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette from the beginning of December through the end of January (that were ultimately silenced), made for quite a disappointing offseason for the O’s.

There wasn’t much available on the market that made sense for the Orioles, but there were some moves that the team could have made this winter.

Let’s take a look at a few opportunities the team missed this offseason.

Begin Slideshow

New Year’s Resolutions for the Baltimore O’s in 2015

It is officially the year 2015, and with the holiday season in the rearview mirror, the countdown to spring training, as well as Opening Day, has begun.

The offseason is just over halfway through at this point, and many free agents are off the board. What’s more, plenty of trades have been made, making that market a little bit tougher for interested teams as well.

The Baltimore Orioles are a team still looking to improve before the start of the 2015 regular season. With a strong and deep team already in place, it won’t take much for the O’s to field a roster they believe will win them a second consecutive AL East title.

They do still have some work to do, however, as they’ve had a relatively quiet offseason after losing some key pieces to their success this past season in Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller.

The O’s don’t need to take a “new year, new team” mentality into 2015, but they do need to do a couple of things.

Here are a few New Year’s resolutions for the Birds.

Begin Slideshow

The Smartest and Dumbest Moves of Baltimore O’s Offseason to Date

The MLB offseason is roughly halfway to the start of spring training in February. Plenty has happened over the course of the last couple of months, as teams work tirelessly toward building a better franchise for 2015 and beyond.

The Baltimore Orioles have attempted to build off of a successful 2014 season in which the team reached the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1997, but they haven’t had much luck swinging any deals this winter.

The team has made some smart moves, though, by failing to make certain rumored moves. Sometimes, the best thing that a team can do is to not make a certain move.

We’re going to take a look at some of the smartest and dumbest things the O’s have done so far this winter.

Begin Slideshow

Grading the Baltimore Orioles’ Offseason Post-Winter Meetings

The 2014 MLB winter meetings in San Diego arrived. Rumors flew. Teams signed players and dealt others. Plenty of action went down.

Then, the winter meetings went, just as quickly as they arrived.

For the Baltimore Orioles, the winter meetings didn’t provide a blockbuster trade or a big free-agent signing. In fact, they didn’t provide a trade or signing of significance at all.

Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette (presumably) spent his time at the winter meetings laying the groundwork for potential future trades and/or signings. The winter meetings were certainly not a waste of time for the O’s front office.

However, up to this point, the Orioles really haven’t been able to accomplish much good this offseason. The team has lost three key players from its 2014 roster in DH/outfielder Nelson Cruz, late-inning reliever Andrew Miller and longtime fan favorite and right fielder Nick Markakis.

That leaves some pretty big holes on the O’s roster. Of course, the team has some depth in each of those areas, but it would always love to upgrade if at all possible.

The O’s did leave San Diego with a couple of Rule V draftees during the major league phase of the draft. The team selected right-handed pitcher Logan Verrett out of the New York Mets organization with the 28th selection in the draft.

Baltimore also swapped cash considerations for another right-handed pitcher, Jason Garcia, whom the Houston Astros took with the fourth overall pick from the Boston Red Sox organization.

The two pitchers will be given a shot to compete for a bullpen spot, and Verrett appears to have a better chance of sticking than Garcia does. Verrett spent the 2014 season at Triple-A (11-5, 4.33 ERA), while Garcia was at the Single-A level (3-2, 3.67 ERA).

Though the O’s were unable to fill any holes in their outfield or with a sure thing in their bullpen, Duquette alluded to the possibility of the O’s completing a deal as early as the beginning of next week.

According to this tweet from Roch Kubatko of, Duquette appears more likely to complete a deal with a free agent than complete a trade.

Even with that said, Duquette seems to prefer minor league outfielder Dariel Alvarez over many of the free-agent outfield options. He has stated he’d prefer Alvarez start the 2015 season in Triple-A but is “looking forward to Buck (Showalter) giving Dariel Alvarez a shot in the spring.”

The O’s aren’t one to complete blockbuster deals or make flashy free-agent signings, so it should surprise no one that the team didn’t make any waves over the course of the last four days.

Instead, look for Baltimore to continue to add quality depth in the hopes that a few players stick (such as Steve Pearce this season, or Nate McLouth in 2012). That’s how the Orioles operate, and it’s worked quite well over the last three seasons.

That doesn’t mean the team won’t necessarily add a player of impact. I would expect it to be someone like a Nori Aoki on a smaller deal rather than a Melky Cabrera on a long, expensive deal. Again, that’s just the Orioles’ identity.

However, that doesn’t let the O’s off the hook for now. The team hasn’t really done anything so far this winter to directly improve its projected Opening Day 25-man roster. In fact, it has lost plenty of production on paper due to the departures of Cruz, Miller and Markakis.

While the money saved not signing those guys could go to good use elsewhere, it would have been nice to see at least one of those players return to Baltimore. And of course, at least some of the money saved has to actually be used for it to mean anything.

So for right now, the O’s are receiving an F for their failure to improve their team on paper at all through the winter meetings.

But there’s still time. Roughly two months, actually. The O’s will make moves. They didn’t make their flashiest moves until just before spring training began in 2014, landing Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez.

And even now, the Orioles are still a strong competitor in an AL East with a lot of question marks surrounding every team.

I understand it’s frustrating so far, O’s fans. But remember: There’s still plenty of time.

Read more MLB news on

Baltimore Orioles: 3 Players Who Will Not Be Back in 2015

Now that the MLB season has hit the post-trading deadline stretch, all eyes are on division races, wild-card spots and the excitement of marching toward the postseason.

The Baltimore Orioles are one of the teams that are positioned nicely, currently holding the largest division lead in the league at six games. If the O’s just keep doing what they’re doing, they shouldn’t have to worry about losing their spot atop the AL East.

And while most thoughts are on the postseason, some people are beginning to wonder about players who will become free agents at the end of the season and what will happen to them on the open market.

Of course, the Orioles have players that are due to hit the market this winter, many of which are bigger-name players (Nelson Cruz) and key cogs that have been on the team forever (Nick Markakis).

The team won’t be able to retain every player, and frankly, it may not want to. So let’s take a stab a who won’t be returning to Baltimore for the 2015 season.

Begin Slideshow

3 Post-Deadline Moves the Baltimore O’s Could Still Make

Last week, baseball fans witnessed one of the craziest trade deadline days MLB has ever seen.

It seemed as though any player was up for grabs. Pitching stars such as Jon Lester and David Price were shipped off. Big-name hitters, including Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera, were moved as well. And the closer we all got to the 4 p.m. deadline, the quicker the moves seemed to be happening.

The Baltimore Orioles got in on the action, acquiring left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox for left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. Miller (2.25 ERA, 44 IP) has been one of the best relievers in the game this season and will help contribute to an Orioles bullpen that was already very good before his arrival.

But while the O’s added a valuable weapon in Miller, some feel as though the team could have, and should have, done more to acquire necessary pieces.

The O’s do have some obvious holes on their roster, leaving vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette in a position to look at acquiring more players even after the non-waiver trade deadline has passed. The most glaring needs, in order, appear to be: 

  1. Second base
  2. Catcher
  3. Pitching

The Orioles currently have a platoon of the right-handed-hitting Jonathan Schoop and left-handed-hitting Ryan Flaherty going at second base for them. And while their defense has been pretty outstanding, their offense has left a lot to be desired, as they are collectively batting .210 with 12 home runs.

Though Schoop is just 22 and a fairly highly touted prospect, the team is in the middle of a pennant race and can’t be waiting around for a youngster to figure it out at the big league level.

The problem is that there may not be much available on the market that is an obvious upgrade over what the team currently has. Last Thursday, Baltimore was targeting both Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio, only to watch them go to other teams.

The Philadelphia Phillies‘ Chase Utley appears to be the best option, but he has a pricey contract and would cost a lot in the way of prospects to acquire. He can also block any trade due to his 10-and-5 rights.

As far as the catcher position is concerned, the O’s appear content with their platoon of veteran Nick Hundley and rookie Caleb Joseph. While both of those players are also struggling offensively, their defense has been superb, and O’s manager Buck Showalter has always made it well known to his players that he values strong defense above strong offense.

For that reason, I would not expect the team to target the recently released Dan Uggla (Giants) at second base, for example.

Joseph, a 28-year-old former prospect, was always better known in the minor leagues for his offense as opposed to his defense, yet he has been terrific behind the dish for the club. It’s still possible that the rookie could get his offense going in the bigs.

Duquette will likely monitor the catching market, but just like the second base market, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot out there that would make the O’s better. Don’t be surprised if the O’s do acquire another catcher before September, but don’t be surprised if they don’t, either.

Now when it comes to pitching, any team could use help in that department no matter how good its staff is.

The O’s pitching staff certainly has been good over the last couple of months, propelling them to the fifth-best ERA in the AL (3.68). And while the team’s rotation lacks a “truce ace,” I wouldn’t expect to see the club acquire one during the month of August.

Instead, the O’s will be looking to add depth to their roster, both in the majors and minors. The team has already added Miller to its bullpen and has signed veteran left-handed starter Joe Saunders to a minor league contract.

According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the O’s are interested in signing their former closer, Jim Johnson, to a minor league deal after he was released by the Oakland Athletics, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a deal get done between the two parties. However, Kubatko later reported that possibility could already be squashed.

And should any relievers become available this August, such as Boston’s Koji Uehara, expect the O’s to be right in the thick of trade talks as they look to improve upon a strength—because a shutdown bullpen in the playoffs is a dangerous weapon.

While the O’s could make another move or two before September, the team likely won’t be making any splashes in the headlines this month. Certainly it’ll be active on trade fronts as well as the free-agent market, but if you’re expecting the team to bring in an ace pitcher, then you’ll be seriously disappointed when another month goes by.

However, just because the non-waiver trade deadline has passed doesn’t mean the O’s aren’t going to be making any moves. The team’s offense has slumped recently, so expect Duquette to target some solid hitters in an attempt to awaken the O’s bats, as well as look to build upon the strength that is the O’s pitching staff.

More moves are likely to come. It won’t be anything like last week’s deadline madness, but it could still be fun.

Read more MLB news on

Breaking Down 3 of the Most Likely Trade Partners for the Baltimore O’s

It’s about that time of year again.

In roughly one week, the Baltimore Orioles will have reached the mathematical halfway point in their schedule. Currently tied for second place in the AL East, the Orioles have shown that they’re a strong, competitive team this season.

They’ve also had trouble stringing a long winning streak together and really making that push to the top of their division standings.

The O’s front office, namely Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, will have to decide whether there are any smart trades the team can make to improve their roster in attempt to push the team to the next level.

Options are out there. Trades are always available, especially at this time of year. It’s up to Duquette and Co. to pull the right strings for the O’s.

Let’s take a look at some potential trade partners for the Orioles this summer.

Begin Slideshow

Are the Baltimore Orioles Going to Make Any Legitimate Moves This Winter?

We are now more than halfway through January and spring training is just weeks away.

The Baltimore Orioles are coming off two consecutive winning seasons, including a playoff berth in 2012, and that—coupled with the team’s talented core—gives O’s fans hope for the 2014 season.

However, the Orioles have done virtually nothing to improve their team this winter, or at least in the sense of an impact signing of a bigger-name player.

So it begs the question: Are the Orioles going to make any legitimate moves this winter?

As I previously stated, the O’s have a talented core that includes center fielder Adam Jones, first baseman Chris Davis, catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop J.J. Hardy. Chris Tillman appears to be making strides toward becoming the first homegrown front-line starter for the O’s since Mike Mussina (or arguably, Erik Bedard).

The O’s won 85 games in 2013, and though they were strong in areas—leading in homers and putting up arguably the best defensive season in baseball history—they also have glaring holes, preventing them from reaching the playoffs for the second straight year. The team finished 19th in baseball in OBP, lack a true ace starter, lack multiple-innings eaters in their rotation (Tillman was the only starter to reach 200 innings) and while they have some strong bullpen pieces, there remains inconsistency with a few pieces.

With one of the best cores in baseball, the O’s seemingly need only a few complementary pieces to push the team to the next level. Their lineup is so strong and their defense is fantastic. If they could manage to have guys on base more often for those homers, or another pitcher who could pitch deep into games and save the bullpen every fifth day, then the team would likely greatly improve.

As I’ve mentioned before in many previous articles this winter, there are players on the market who could benefit the Birds without breaking the bank. I’m certainly not in favor of signing a pricey player just to make a move. Many of the players who were on the market, or are still on the market this winter, wouldn’t have been good fits for the O’s, especially at their market value.

However, if the team were to add starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo to their rotation for the next two seasons, they may get a pitcher who pitches to an ERA of 4.50-5.00 (career 4.19 ERA with his last eight seasons in the NL Central), but they’ll also get a guy who has made at least 32 starts and pitched at least 199 innings in each of the last nine seasons. That kind of consistency would greatly benefit the bullpen arms every fifth day that he pitches, and wouldn’t cost too much for what his innings would be worth.

On the offensive side, the team is in serious need of adding a player who is good at getting on base, and the best guy out there for the O’s would be Kendrys Morales.

Sure, he would cost a little bit of money and a first-round pick, but he would fill the gaping DH hole the O’s have had for many seasons. His career .333 OBP would slot nicely into any middle-of-the-order position, likely the fifth slot behind Jones and Davis and in front of Hardy and Wieters. Not only would Morales provide protection for the O’s current sluggers (helping to improve the pitches they see), he’ll receive help from the guys hitting behind him, likely making his numbers better as well.

In regards to the draft pick, I would much rather have a sure thing in Morales than wonder whether a prospect is going to pan out, especially given the O’s record with (failing at) developing young talent.

Bringing back reliever Francisco Rodriguez would help provide quality depth to the O’s bullpen, especially after the team dealt closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland A’s in an obvious salary dump and failed to complete a deal with closer Grant Balfour due to concerns with the right-hander’s physical. It would give the O’s more options should Tommy Hunter, who is viewed as the favorite to start the season as the team’s closer, fail to succeed in the ninth-inning role. And K-Rod wouldn’t cost near as much as other options on the market, such as Balfour or Fernando Rodney.

The O’s have done a good job at adding depth this winter.

They’ve signed outfielder Delmon Young and pitcher Alfredo Aceves to minor league deals and outfielder Tyler Colvins to a major league deal (pending an announcement). Baltimore has brought in Rule V pick Michael Almanzar, a corner infielder, and acquired second baseman Jemile Weeks (a former first-round pick) in the Johnson trade, while bringing back quality utility infielder Alexi Casilla. The acquisitions of reliever Ryan Webb and outfielder David Lough were, in my eyes, stellar moves that will probably help the team more than many fans think.

But at some point the O’s need to stop adding depth and start trying to add the necessary pieces to go all the way. Their time is now—their core isn’t going to stay young and productive forever.

Davis and Wieters have just two years left on their current contracts and are also clients of super-agent Scott Boras, an agent who urges his clients to test the open market rather than sign team-friendly extensions.

The team needs to realize that their time to compete is right now. The plan that former general manager Andy MacPhail had in place to grow the team through the farm system while adding timely and successful trades has now come to fruition. The O’s need just a few more pieces to becomes one of the scariest teams in baseball, and that’s not even considering that they still have pitching prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy looking for their shot to prove they can match the hype surrounding them.

I’m all for adding depth, and as I said I don’t want to see the team add a giant contract just for the sake of doing so. But there are smart moves that the team can make. There’s things that they can do to improve. Because as of right now, on paper, the team has only taken steps backwards this winter.

Whether the team adds impact pieces or not, this season is going to be interesting. We’ll get to see whether the O’s can make magic happen without the benefit of major acquisitions, or we’ll get to see how the team molds together and performs with big acquisition guys on the roster.

Hopefully, the O’s are able to add a bunch of wins, regardless of which route they have taken come the end of the offseason. But I’m not so sure. All I know is that the time is now to make winning happen, and the O’s front office hasn’t really shown any urgency to do so.

There’s still time, but it’s quickly running out.

Read more MLB news on

Projecting the Baltimore Orioles’ 5-Man Rotation for 2014

It’s a new year, and for Baltimore Orioles fans, that means a new sense of urgency. The holidays are behind us and the free agent and trade markets will soon begin to pick up again, as some big names and impact players are still out there up for grabs.

The O’s haven’t done much to improve their roster this offseason, leading fans to believe that they will continue that trend before spring training and the regular season start. However, there’s still time, as pitchers and catchers aren’t due to report to spring training for over a month.

Barring any changes, the Orioles have a fairly set starting pitching rotation, with spots one through four appearing to be occupied. That leaves the fifth spot up for grabs, where the Orioles have no shortage of available arms to fill that slot.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that right-hander Chris Tillman is named the team’s No. 1 starter for the Opening Day assignment.

But seriously, Tillman is the clear-cut choice to front the O’s rotation after finishing last season 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA. He made 33 starts with one complete game and threw 206.1 innings, striking out 179 batters. The breakout season for Tillman followed his 2012 season, which included 15 starts, a 9-3 record and 2.93 ERA, proving that the young pitcher is putting it together at the big league level after three straight frustrating seasons in which he had a plus-5.00 ERA to begin his career.

Tillman may not be a true ace, but he’s turning into a top-of-the-rotation starter, is the best the O’s have and may get even better this season.

From here on out, Baltimore’s rotation isn’t as easy to predict.

The O’s currently have three guys penciled into the rotation in Miguel Gonzalez, lefty Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris. If the O’s were to go out and acquire a Bronson Arroyo or A.J. Burnett, then I would imagine either would slot into the No. 2 role and everyone else would be bumped back a slot. If they don’t make any additions, though, here’s how I see it playing out.

Manager Buck Showalter likely already has an idea of how he wants to lay out his rotation, but will consider spring performances to see if any shuffling around is needed. Ultimately, I see Gonzalez grabbing the No. 2 slot, as he’s been a solid arm for the Orioles over the past two seasons. In 2012, he appeared in 18 games, made 15 starts, and went 9-4 with an ERA of 3.25 over 105.1 innings. In 2013, he made 28 starts, going 11-8 with a 3.78 ERA over 171.1 innings pitched.

After Gonzalez, I see Chen taking the third spot. The left-hander has been a nice pickup for the O’s at 19-18 with a 4.04 ERA in 55 starts over the past two seasons. He’s much better suited for a fourth or fifth slot in the rotation, but seeing as how the O’s haven’t added a starter to slot into the rotation this winter, guys are going to have to be slotted higher than their worth.

That leaves Norris as the team’s No. 4 pitcher. Norris came over from the Houston Astros at the trade deadline last year, and was the No 1 pitcher on that team. He went 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA for the O’s after his acquisition, making nine starts and pitching 50.2 innings in 11 appearances. On a team with more quality starting pitching depth, Norris would likely to be a bullpen guy, and he may ultimately end up there with the O’s, but for now, they need him to start.

The problem with the O’s rotation, outside of Tillman, is that each guy has trouble going deep into games, often starting strong then struggling at some point in the fifth inning or beyond. Doing that on a consistent basis taxes the O’s bullpen, which is why I strongly believe the team needs to add an Arroyo or a Burnett to pair with Tillman and give the bullpen more of a breather.

Also, adding a guy like either of those would bump back Gonzalez, Chen, and Norris into more suitable starting slots, providing better matchups against opposing teams’ starting pitchers and therefore presenting more of an opportunity to win games.

As for the No. 5 spot, Baltimore has many pitchers who will be competing for that slot in spring training, including lefties Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland and Brian Matusz, along with right-handers Josh Stinson, Steve Johnson, Liam Hendriks and Kevin Gausman. I view Britton and Matusz as the favorites, though Britton may have the edge because the O’s have come to value Matusz in the bullpen. Britton doesn’t have any options left, giving him an edge over McFarland, Stinson, Hendriks and Gausman.

With left-hander Troy Patton having to serve a 25-game suspension at the start of the season after testing positive for amphetamine use, the O’s have a hole in the bullpen, making it likely that McFarland will start the season in the majors rather than in Triple-A. The O’s would likely prefer McFarland in the bullpen in that case. Ultimately, I see Britton nabbing the fifth spot in the rotation as he is without minor league options and the O’s want to find out what they have in him.

In the end, I see the O’s going with a fairly predictable starting five, assuming that they don’t bring in someone from outside the organization. I predict that Tillman, Gonzalez, Chen, Norris, and Britton will break camp as the five pitchers in the O’s starting rotation—in that order. Hopefully they will improve in 2014 and help lead the O’s to a playoff berth.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress