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Fangraphs has released their 2020 Steamer projections. What do they predict for the Baltimore Orioles?
Immediate Disclaimer: We’re not gathering any major takeaways from the recently released 2020 Steamer projections on Fangraphs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t utilize them for what they’re best for, giving us something to talk about during a long, likely pretty quiet offseason for the Baltimore Orioles.

Here are some of the more interesting projections, including a few that would be welcomed numbers from Orioles players and a few that have us scratching our heads a bit.

Per Steamer, only four Orioles hitters are projected to finish with an fWAR higher than 1.0, with Trey Mancini leading the way at 1.9. Jonathan Villar (1.8), Hanser Alberto (1.4), and Austin Hays (1.2) are the other three. Mancini’s 30 doubles, 29 home runs, and 113 wRC+ are all projected to be team-highs.

There isn’t much that sticks out when it comes to the offense. A .246 average with 27 home runs for Renato Nunez seems on par, as does a 22 home run season with a .261/.305/.453 slash for a full year of Anthony Santander. A -0.5 fWAR season across 56 games for Chris Davis (.196 AVG, 11 HR, 91 K in 57 games) and a projected negative -0.1 fWAR from Stevie Wilkerson are also likely.

If Austin Hays can produce close to his projected 107 games played, 41 extra-base hits (19 home runs), .257/.298/.454 slash, 93 wRC+ it will be a successful season. He may have been electric in September, but can make it through an entire season while staying healthy?

I have questions about the catching projections. Steamer has Chance Sisco playing in 77 games and putting up a .238 average, .324 OBP, and 10 home runs, with Pedro Severino seeing action in 68 games with 21 extra-base hits, a .243 average, and a wRC+ of 83. There are still major questions surrounding Sisco’s future, so I’m not opposed to seeing him get the majority of the time behind the plate.

However, his projected 5.7 Defensive Rating is mind-boggling. According to Fangraphs, he recorded a -7.5 Defensive Rating in 2019. I’m not going to pretend to know the math that goes into creating these projections, but I put more faith into Chris Davis hitting .250 with 30 home runs next season than Sisco becoming valuable behind the plate. Only two catchers in all of baseball were rated worse than Sisco defensively this past season.

Baltimore Orioles 2020 Steamer Pitching Projections.
Here’s where things get even more interesting to look at. Steamer has Dylan Bundy leading not just Orioles pitching, but the entire Orioles roster with a 2.0 fWAR. His nine projected wins are tied with John Means for the team lead while his 8.54 K/9 IP and 5.12 ERA projections lead all starting pitchers.

Steamer doesn’t see a great season from John Means. Limited time in the major leagues plays a role here, but they have him going 9-13 with a 5.41 ERA, 1.4 fWAR, and a team-leading 41 home runs allowed. He recorded a 3.60 ERA in 2019, but owned a 4.41 FIP and 5.48 xFIP and a 30.9% groundball rate. Caleb Smith of the Miami Marlins was the only pitcher with at least 150 IP to record a lower GB rate last season. These numbers don’t help his 2020 projections.

As far as rookies are concerned, Steamer believes Dean Kremer will log the fourth-most innings, throwing 129 across 23 starts. He’s projected at 6-10 with a 5.62 ERA and 111 strikeouts. Keegan Akin is listed at 4-6 with a 5.82 ERA in 15 starts with an 8.09 K/9 IP rate (second-highest among starters) and a 4.93 BB/9 IP rate.

Akin’s command struggles are well noted and will be something to watch closely in spring training/early Triple-A starts next season. I wouldn’t be mad at all if Kremer posts something similar to these projections. That’s a fairly decent major league debut on a team likely to hit 100 losses again.

You can view the full Steamer projections here on Fangraphs. Check them out and let us know what you think? Think anyone will greatly outperform their projection? Is Steamer a little too high on anyone? Let us know!

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Good morning, Camden Chatters.

This is where I would normally talk about the big baseball news of the day. Only today, there’s a whole lot of nothing. We’re in that two-day lull after the All-Star Game where teams are still on their break. There were no major league games yesterday, and one lone game (the Astros at the Rangers) on the slate for tonight. The Orioles, and 27 other teams, will have to wait until Friday to resume their 2019 schedule.

There’s not much going on in terms of player movement, either, which is a far cry from last year’s post-All Star Game hiatus, when the Orioles agreed to terms with the Dodgers on the blockbuster Manny Machado trade. It seems unlikely that a deal of that caliber is in the works for the Birds today, or any time in the near future.

So, now we just sit around and wait. As bad as the Orioles have been this year, it turns out that going four days without watching them is actually kind of boring.

Links
The 2019 First-Half Orioles’ Awards: The surges, surprises and stinkers – The Athletic
Dan Connolly hands out his midseason awards. I might have gone with John Means over Trey Mancini for Most Valuable Oriole, but otherwise, it’s hard to argue with any of his picks.

Hyde looking back and ahead – School of Roch
Brandon Hyde is optimistic that the Orioles will improve in the second half, and that more young players will be given opportunities. I’m skeptical about the first part, but the second part sounds like a fantastic idea.

Chris Davis on his O’s teammates and their hopeful futures – Steve Melewski
I’ll give Chris Davis credit: he has the right attitude and is saying the right things even while battling yet another hellacious season. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take a lot more than just the right attitude to restore Davis to a useful player.

How much dealing will O’s do prior to Deadline? – Orioles.com
It’s July, which means it’s trading season! But don’t expect a total Orioles selloff like last year, because the Birds just don’t have that many valuable trade chips. One or two deals might be a more realistic estimate.

Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Just one Oriole has this birthday, and he appeared in just one game: right-hander Zach Clark, a UMBC alum whose lone big league appearance came on May 1, 2013. He gave up three runs in 1.2 innings in Seattle.

On this day in 1968, Earl Weaver made his debut as Orioles manager, beating the Senators, 2-0. Eighteen years and 2,540 games later, Weaver was an Orioles legend and World Series champion on his way to the Hall of Fame.

In 1987, Billy Ripken made his major league debut, playing second base alongside his Hall of Fame brother, Cal Jr., at short, and his dad, Cal Sr., as manager. It was the first time in MLB history that a skipper managed two of his sons.

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Hello, friends.

There are now 147 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day 2020. No more baseball games are left to divert our attention between now and spring training. The World Series ended last night and there will be no baseball that counts until the end of March. The Astros did not win a second title in three seasons.

It figures to be a quiet offseason for the Orioles. Things will probably be even less eventful than they were last year, when at least the team had to find a new general manager and then a new manager. They weren’t done doing those things until mid-December. The GM search, in particular, was important because of the signal it would send about how serious the team’s ownership would be about investing in the needed rebuild project.

We know, now, that they are on board, since the Orioles hired Mike Elias to do what needs to be done. That is a good thing in the long run. It didn’t mean a lot of winning at the MLB level in 2019, and it doesn’t look like 2020 is going to be all that great either. Coming off of a 108-loss season isn’t the time for big moves that will have an immediate, positive impact on the MLB standings.

There won’t be any big free agent signings. There may not even be any significant trades, because most of the players who you might have thought a year ago would be trade chips at this point did not play well in 2019 and don’t have much value. We’ll find out if they’re going to cash in on Jonathan Villar and Trey Mancini.

If those players get dealt, that would mark a real shift compared to what Elias and company have done so far. While they have made a lot of choices to not chase what they felt would be meaningless short-term improvement, they have not yet done a lot that would actively make the Orioles worse. Even the trade of Andrew Cashner looked like a shrewd sell high decision with how he pitched for Boston after that deal.

What will be going on a lot through the offseason is random roster churn. The Orioles kicked that off on Wednesday by outrighting four pitchers from the 40-man roster: Luis Ortiz, Josh Rogers, Ryan Eades, Tayler (not Tanner) Scott.

Ortiz and Rogers are interesting names if only because they were part of the July 2018 fire sale trades; they’ve done nothing in the organization to consider this a loss to the 40-man. Eades and Scott also did not make a memorable positive impression with the playing time given to them.

Around the blogO’sphere
Orioles claim Valaika off waivers (School of Roch)
Along with the four guys who got outrighted, the O’s made one waiver claim, on infielder Pat Valaika. Roch runs down Valaika’s career to date.

Where will Rutschman play next year? (Orioles.com)
Joe Trezza hits the inbox to tackle questions about Adley Rutschman and comparable trades for Trey Mancini.

O’s minor league arrangement could be very different a year from now (Baltimore Baseball)
Rich Dubroff’s read on the Baseball America story about the potential elimination of minor league teams is that Delmarva might be the most likely team to be squeezed out.

A reunion with Jonathan Schoop seems unlikely for the Orioles (Steve Melewski)
It’s going to be a long offseason if it’s not even November and we’re reaching for stories like these.

Cal Ripken and Adam Jones’ former Baltimore County estate back on market (Baltimore Sun)
The people who bought the Cal Ripken house from Adam Jones did a bunch of renovations and then decided they didn’t actually want to move out of their current house to go live there, so it’s for sale again. No, really.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today in 1979, Mike Flanagan was named the winner of the AL Cy Young Award. Flanagan pitched in 39 games, 38 of which were starts, posting a 3.08 ERA over 265.2 innings. Pitching for the fantastic ‘79 O’s helped him rack up a 23-9 record. He received 26 of 28 first place votes in beating out New York’s Tommy John. Flanagan never received a Cy Young vote again.

There are several former Orioles with Halloween birthdays. They are: 2013 eight-gamer Yamaico Navarro, 1997 reserve outfielder David Delucci, 2005-06 reliever Tim Byrdak, 2007-08 pitcher Steve Trachsel, 1995 catcher Matt Nokes, 1989-90 pitcher Mike Smith, and 1962-74 pitcher Dave McNally.

It’s also the birthday of former Orioles manager Dave Trembley.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday and Halloween to you! Your spooky birthday buddies for this day include: poet John Keats (1795), Girl Scouts of America founder Juliette Gordon Low (1860), actor John Candy (1950), author Neal Stephenson (1959), filmmaker Peter Jackson (1961), rapper and home improvement enthusiast Vanilla Ice (1967), and actress Piper Perabo (1976).

On this day in history…
In 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg. The publication of the Theses are now generally recognized as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, though historians say Luther the “nailing to the door” part may have happened in mid-November.

In 1917, during World War I, the British (heavily Australian) Army defeated a German-Ottoman force in the Battle of Beersheba in what is recognized as the last successful cavalry charge in military history. The victory led to the British capture of Jerusalem before Christmas.

In 1940, during World War II, the Battle of Britain came to an end, at least by British reckoning, as the threat of a Nazi invasion subsided. German accounts considered the battle as lasting until the end of the Blitz in the next year.

In 1941, work on Mount Rushmore was completed, and ever since we have been debating what is the “Mount Rushmore” of everything else.

**

And that’s the way it is in Birdland on Halloween – or at least, unless something happens later on this first full day of the offseason. Have a safe Thursday.

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Evaluating Richie Martin from a statistical perspective is a little like that scene from the movie Office Space.

If you’ve seen it, you probably know where I’m going with this. A pair of consultants are brought in to help with downsizing, and while hearing a particularly replaceable employee try to describe his responsibilities, one finally gives up and asks “What would you say…you do here?”

For an Oriole fan, it’d be easy to ask that of Martin given a look at the numbers from this summer.

Martin didn’t do much at the plate for the Orioles this season. He batted .208 over the course of 120 games, had an on-base percentage of .260 and posted an OPS of .581. Not good.

But he’s a shortstop, you might counter, so surely he’s another Rey Ordonez or Cesar Izturis, right? Someone whose glove and defensive prowess at a key position make up for his light bat?

Not exactly. Martin’s defensive WAR was -0.1, indicating he was ever-so-slightly below league average, and his fielding percentage was .971, while the American League average at shortstop was .970. His range factor, which measures putouts and assists per nine innings and is therefore an attempt to gauge a player’s ability to get to balls, was 3.81 per nine innings. The league average was 3.87.

So…what does he do here?

In truth, Martin’s role, as is the case with a lot of Orioles players ever since the front office ripped up the franchise floorboards, comes not from what he does, but what he can do. The 24-year-old Martin was a first-round pick by Oakland out of the University of Florida only four years ago, and in 2018 while still with the Athletics organization had a solid year at the plate for Double-A Midland, batting .300 with an .807 OPS and 25 stolen bases.

He arrived in Baltimore as a Rule 5 acquisition last December, and got a promotion he likely wasn’t quite ready for just yet. Despite having no major league innings under his belt, he was named the team’s Opening Day shortstop, and started 2-for-his first 23 to put himself in a hole with his average that he never escaped.

Still, it’s clear that the organization is hoping he can have a role with this team going forward. He was the 13th-ranked prospect entering the season, and after getting a feel for big-league pitching, he began to show that he was getting the hang of it. After looking out of his element in the first half of the season, Martin was more comfortable in a part-time role in the second half, batting .284 with a .321 on-base percentage and .713 OPS in 51 games, only 33 of which he started.

And then there is the defense. Martin’s ability at shortstop wasn’t appreciated by the numbers, but he’s made a name for himself over the years both in college and the pros for his slick fielding. That was apparent during the season, as Martin was routinely showing off a flair for the highlight-reel play with his quick reactions to hard-hit balls and strong arm.

Add to that mix enough speed for Martin to swipe 10 bags on 11 tries, and it becomes clear what the Orioles see in him. The question becomes how much of that potential Martin can fulfill.

He’ll certainly get his chances.

With two more years to go before he’s arbitration eligible and five years of team control remaining, Martin is the ideal low-risk prospect for the Orioles to try to develop as they take these first steps toward rebuilding the team. He has no touted prospect like Adley Rutschman or Ryan Mountcastle immediately threatening for his job, so it’s in both his and the team’s best interest for Martin to get some more cracks at establishing himself as a big-league shortstop.

Given his defensive skills and situational value (defensive replacement, utility infielder, pinch-runner, etc.), Martin certainly has value for the Orioles’ and any team’s roster going into 2020. Next to catcher, shortstop is the position where defensive ability is most appreciated and offensive shortcomings are most willingly tolerated. Martin should get a chance to make his case for the starting lineup next year — although the emergence of Hanser Alberto makes that a tougher prospect if Jonathan Villar is back — but even if he doesn’t make the progress expected of him in the offseason, he remains someone Brandon Hyde will appreciate having on his bench.

After that, however, it gets cloudier. For Martin to have a role on the Orioles when the rebuild begins to show fruit, he’ll need to be able to hit. By then, Baltimore’s shortstops on the farm — be it Mason McCoy, Adam Hall, Gunnar Henderson or Cadyn Grenier, assuming he gets his game back together — will be all grown up and challenging for the big-league job. Being a sure-handed .215 hitter probably won’t be enough to make the lineup, and even if Martin does get better with the bat, it might not be his call; Henderson, a second-round pick this year, could take the drama out of the decision depending on how his minor-league career goes.

Barring a veteran acquisition that leaves him on the outside looking in, however, Martin will likely get a good, long look for more Camden Yards at-bats this spring. Whether he starts proving he knows what to do with them will determine just how many he gets.

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Hello, friends.

There were always bound to be times this season where the pleasant glow of a better future became hard to see in the face of the bright, hopeless light of the present day of the 2019 Orioles. The current stretch where the Orioles have lost six of their last seven games, with the offense scoring fewer than three runs per game on average in that time, is not one of the fun times.

Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Yankees was an exercise in futility. The Orioles combined to go 0-13 with runners in scoring position across both games. That’s a tough way to try to win a couple of games. The Baltimore Sun’s Nathan Ruiz noted that the Orioles are now 6-60 in those situations over their past ten games.

Check out Paul Folkemer’s recap to see what you missed in the first game, and Alex Church’s recap of the night half of the doubleheader to enlighten yourself about the second game.

After watching those games yesterday, what’s bringing me down about the Orioles right now is the outfield. One of the things I tried to tell myself heading into the season was that, at least we might finally be able to see a real outfield full of outfielders this season.

That has not proven to be the case. Yesterday saw first baseman Trey Mancini bump into utility infielder Steve Wilkerson while going to make a catch. That’s not a shock when you play infielders in the outfield and then expect them to do normal stuff. Mancini committed an error in the first game and Joey Rickard committed an error in the second game. Rickard simply failed to catch an easy ball in one of the worst-looking outfield plays you’ll ever see.

The hoped-for outfield from back in spring training hasn’t materialized yet. The struggles of Cedric Mullins to stay afloat at the MLB level, along with Rickard’s struggle while somehow staying on the roster, have left the Orioles frequently deploying the kind of patchwork that does no one any favors.

Maybe none of this really matters all that much as long as Orioles pitchers are going to continue to give up a bazillion home runs. But I’ll feel a little better about it if Mullins plays his way back to MLB, and Austin Hays gets himself into the mix as well.

The chase for the home runs allowed record continues. The Orioles gave up four home runs in the first game yesterday and one homer in the second game. That leaves them with 89 home runs surrendered in 42 games, a pace over a full season of 343 home runs allowed. The question continues to be when, rather than if, these O’s will blow past the record of 258 home runs allowed by the 2016 Reds.

Mike Mussina was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame 117 days ago. The Orioles have not yet announced any plans to retire his jersey number or erect his statue at Camden Yards.

Around the blogO’sphere
Rebuilding Baltimore Orioles already better than last year’s team (Forbes)
Sometimes this feels like it’s true and sometimes it doesn’t. Right now is one of the times where it doesn’t, so it’s nice to be reminded that maybe this is a little better.

Smith Jr. flourishing in the fast lane (Orioles.com)
Dwight Smith Jr.’s advice from his retired MLB dad: “Don’t miss your fastball.” And this year, he hasn’t been.

Wrapping up 5-3 loss in Game 1 (School of Roch)
I’m including this one mostly because of the quotes from catcher Austin Wynns, who accurately summed up the home runs allowed stuff as “embarrassing.”

One year into his major league career, David Hess seeks to develop consistency (Baltimore Sun)
My pet peeve word right now that is meaningless in baseball commentary is “consistency.” David Hess IS consistent at not pitching well enough for MLB success, including yesterday when he gave up four home runs. He just hasn’t been good.

Elias on draft: “A rare opportunity to get an impact player” (Steve Melewski)
Mike Elias is not a guy who gives specifics very often, but it’s always enlightening to see what he has to say as far as a broad philosophy. For now, he says there are five players under strong consideration and one or two dark horse contenders.

Birthdays and anniversaries
Today in 1984, the Orioles released future Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. In five games in the young season, he had a 9.17 ERA. His career 2.86 ERA in nearly 4,000 innings pitched remains impressive, as do his three Cy Young Awards, his never giving up a grand slam in MLB, and his remaining the only pitcher to ever win a World Series game in three different decades.

There are a handful of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2018 futility infielder Luis Sardinas, 2000 reserve Ivanon Coffie, and the late Dave Philley of the 1955-56/60-61 Orioles.

Today is also the birthday of current Orioles pitching coach Doug Brocail. He turns 52 years old today.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Alaska-purchasing Secretary of State William Seward (1801), actor Henry Fonda (1905), historian Studs Terkel (1912), artist Janet Jackson (1966), actress Tori Spelling (1973), and actress Megan Fox (1986).

On this day in history…
In 1843, what’s recognized as the first major wagon train set off from Elk Grove, Missouri along the Oregon Trail. If you’re close to my age, you probably remember the computer game.

In 1868, President Andrew Johnson avoided removal from office in his impeachment trial in the Senate by a margin of one vote.

In 1951, regularly scheduled transatlantic flights existed for the first time, as El Al Israel Airlines scheduled flights between what’s today JFK Airport in New York City and Heathrow Airport in London.

In 1966, China’s Communist Party issued the “May 16 Notice,” a simple title for what’s now known as the Cultural Revolution. Over the next decade, as many as several million Chinese were killed for suspicions of bourgeosie sympathies and thinking.

**

And that’s the way it is in Birdland on May 16 – or at least, until something happens later when the Orioles play the Indians. The game is scheduled to start at the unusual time of 6:10 Eastern, so don’t say you weren’t warned. Have a safe Thursday. Go O’s!

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The Orioles approach to major league roster construction in 2019 essentially boiled down to “throw it against the wall and see what sticks.” That was certainly the plan when it came to assembling a pitching staff. Unfortunately very few things stuck, but the Orioles front office did add a few arms to their 40-man roster that could at least play a role in bridging the gap from the current rebuild to the expected reemergence as competitors. Two of those pitchers are Asher Wojciechowski and Aaron Brooks.

Wojciechowski has moved between many organizations in his career. Originally, he was a first-round pick (41st overall) of the Blue Jays back in 2010. Then he was part of a massive trade between Toronto and the Houston Astros in 2012 and thus began a pattern of transactions that, to this point, has concluded with Wojciechowski as an Orioles players for the second time.

The 30-year-old Wojciechowski had thrown 78.2 innings of major league action before becoming an Oriole this year. He tossed 16.1 innings for Houston in 2015, and then 62.1 innings for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017.

Brooks is a former ninth-round pick back in 2011 who has bounced around quite a bit as a professional. The Royals sent him to the Athletics in 2015. Then in 2016 the A’s traded him to the Brewers. He was claimed off waivers by the Cubs in 2017. The A’s bought him back in 2018. And then finally the Orioles claimed him off of waivers this past July.

Prior to joining the Birds, Brooks had 33 games of big league experience to his name, but it had not gone especially well. He compiled a 5.71 ERA in 29 games with the A’s between 2015 and 2019. And in four games as a Royal he allowed 16 runs across seven innings.

It was Wojciechowski that would get the first opportunity to impress the O’s brass, starting his first MLB game of the season on July 2 against the Rays. From there, he was a regular part of the rotation for the remainder of the year.

Was Wojciechowski any good? Well, sorta. He certainly had impressive moments. His July 21st start against the Red Sox was one of the highlights of the Orioles season. Over 7.1 innings, the righty shutout the Boston bats, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out 10. That performance earned a “Game Score” of 94, the best by an Orioles pitcher all year. And he followed that outing with another seven-inning effort against the Angels in his very next start.

But on the whole, Wojo was just about average. Over 17 games (16 starts), the South Carolina native tossed 82.1 innings, had a 4.92 ERA, 96 ERA+, 5.61 xFIP, 1.3 bWAR and 0.9 fWAR. However, average on the Orioles is different than average on some other team. These numbers make Wojciechowski perhaps the third-best starting pitcher on the team behind John Means and Dylan Bundy.

It was a different story for Brooks, who made his Orioles debut on July 13 and moved right into the rotation. His season lacked the highs that Wojociechowski enjoyed. Brooks finished the year with a 6.18 ERA and 77 ERA+ over 59.2 innings as an Oriole.

A common struggle for Brooks, as it was for many Orioles pitchers, was going deep into games. Of the 12 games he started, Brooks made it past the fifth inning just four times. His best outing came on September 20, when he came out of the bullpen to deliver seven innings, allowing just one run on one hit, a walk and four strikeouts against the Seattle Mariners.

Down the stretch, Brooks pitched quite well. Over his final eight games, he tossed 37.2 innings and allowed just a 4.30 ERA and a .257/.335/.382 batting line against. That performance sets him up to be a major league consideration heading into 2020.

Both Wojciechowski and Brooks do currently find themselves on the Orioles 40-man roster. But that place is far from secure for either one of them. The O’s have a number of young players that will need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this offseason. In order to do so, those young players will need to be placed on the 40-man, which means other players will be removed.

Between the two of them, Wojociechowski has the better chance of making it through the off-season and being a part of the Orioles Opening Day roster. He flashed an ability to compete at the highest level and provides more stability to a pitching staff in desperate need of just that.

Brooks was much more shaky, especially in a starter’s role. The Orioles are unlikely to enter 2020 with the plan to start him every fifth day. Instead, he could be an option as a swing-man out of the bullpen. But that role won’t be handed to him as the relief corps could be one of them most competitive units in the upcoming spring.

Neither of these two pitchers will be expected to play a prominent role on the Orioles team that returns the organization to the proverbial mountain top. But they both have the chance to be serviceable stopgaps until the cavalry of arms emerges in Baltimore.

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Good morning, Birdland!

We can all agree that the Orioles remain miles away from competing with the rest of their division let alone the American League. That won’t change this offseason no matter how hard the front office tries.

Trade the prospects. Sign the free agents. Offer a well-established manager a truck load of cash. Where would that leave the team? Probably with a small window in which they might compete, or possibly on the path to complete and utter disappointment.

Have you seen the Yankees and Rays this postseason? The Bombers have been a juggernaut all season, and the Rays have enough quality pitchers to make your head spin. Neither of those things is likely to change by 2020.

Links & Notes

Three Needs: Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors
This article says that the Orioles need to make a decent effort to improve at the big league level in 2020. I tend to disagree. They shouldn’t tank, but they also don’t need to go make a bunch of trades or signings in order to improve. Stay the course that Mike Elias has laid out, and that could very well lead to another five or so wins next season.

Oriole fans struggle with Nationals question; former Orioles featured in Braves-Cards series – Baltimore Baseball
What’s the struggle? The Nationals are the worst. I mean, not as bad as the Red Sox, or the Yankees or that Blue Jays fan who threw the beer at Hyun Soo Kim, but still. They are the worst!

Checking in on Orioles prospects in Arizona Fall League at halfway point – Baltimore Sun
Last year, outfielder Ryan McKenna was lighting the Arizona Fall League ablaze. It has been less exciting for the the O’s youngsters this year, but that’s OK too.

Former Orioles Manager Buck Showalter Showing Interest In Managing Mets – NESN
Why, Buck? You have had a good career. There is no way that signing up with the Mets can end well. Enjoy retirement.

Manny Machado, San Diego’s franchise player, letting it be known he would like Padres to at least take a look at Buck Showalter, his former skipper, as they go through their managerial search.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 8, 2019
Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Chaz Roe and his crazy slider turn 33 today. The right-handed pitcher spent 45 games with the Orioles between 2015 and 2016. Now he serves as an important piece of the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen.

Well-travel utilityman Jason Pridie is 36 years old today. He played in just four games for the 2013 O’s, and has been out of affiliated ball since 2017.

Last, but certainly not least, we want to wish a very happy 42nd birthday to longtime Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. From 2001 through 2013, Roberts spent a lot of time at the top of some dreadful lineups. He made two all-star teams, led the league in doubles twice and topped the MLB in stolen bases once. He is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame and seems to be on track to become an important piece of the MASN broadcast crew moving forward.

1966 – The Orioles complete a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the franchise’s first World Series title. Dave McNally tosses a four-hit shutout and Frank Robinson’s home run supplies the offense.

1971 – Game 1 of the World Series goes to the Orioles. Dave McNally gets the win and Merv Rettenmund hits a three-run homer.

2014 – The Orioles announce that they have signed shortstop J.J. Hardy to a three-year, $40 million extension one day prior to the start of the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals.

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A headline in the April 8, 1962, edition of the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune read, “Senators Count on Edina’s Johnson.”

The article, published the day before the 1962 major-league baseball season opener, mentioned that Bob Johnson, an infielder, was one of keys to the upcoming season for the Washington Senators.

The next day, the Senators opened the season against the Detroit Tigers in the first baseball game in the new District of Columbia Stadium (now called RFK Stadium).

Johnson, beginning his third season in the big leagues, provided the crowd of 44,383 — which included the president and vice president, Cabinet members and members of Congress — with the first highlights of the season.

Playing shortstop, Johnson singled in the second inning for the Senators’ first hit and then hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning for the first home run in the new stadium. Johnson finished the day with three hits as the Senators defeated the Tigers 4-1.

It was good start to what would be the best season of Johnson’s 11-year major-league career. In 135 games that season, he batted .288 with career-highs in hits (134), doubles (20), home runs (12) and RBI (43).

Johnson, who played in the major leagues until 1970, died on Nov. 9 at age 83.

“He had a great career,” said former University of Minnesota athletic director Tom Moe, who was a high school teammate of Johnson’s. “He was a great guy. Enthusiastic and he loved baseball. He was two years ahead of me at Edina. He was so good with young guys like me. As a high school baseball player, he was a can’t-miss.”

Moe and Johnson were teammates on Edina’s 1954 baseball team, which finished third at the state tournament. Shortly after the tournament, Johnson signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers.

Johnson spent six seasons in the Tigers’ minor-league system before getting the opportunity to play in the major leagues with the Kansas City Athletics in 1960. Johnson was selected by the Senators in the 1960 expansion draft.

After two seasons with the Senators, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. He spent four seasons with the Orioles and was a member of the 1966 Orioles team, which swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

During his time with the Orioles, Johnson became known for his versatility — he played all four infield positions and in the outfield — and his success as a pinch-hitter.

In 1964, Johnson led the American League with 15 pinch-hits. In one stretch, he had six consecutive pinch-hits to tie an American League record. Following the 1964 season, he was named the Upper Midwest Player of the Year at the annual Twin Cities Winter Baseball Dinner.

Former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, tweeted last week, Johnson “was there in 1965, my first year with the O’s. One of the ‘good guys.’ ”

After retiring as a player, Johnson stayed active in baseball, helping put on youth clinics for the Minnesota Twins and managing a team every winter at the Baltimore Orioles Fantasy Camp in Florida. Outside of baseball, he had a long career in sales with Spartan Promotional Group.

Johnson was born on March 4, 1936, in Omaha to Wally and Lillian Johnson. The family moved to Minneapolis in 1947.

Johnson, who had lived in St. Paul since 1964, is survived by Karen, his wife of 58 years; daughter Stephanie and sons Greg and Todd, and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Nov. 29 at Woodbury Lutheran Church, 7380 Afton Road, at 11 a.m. A visitation will begin at 10 a.m.

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On the occasion of the Orioles’ visit to face the Arizona Diamondbacks and old friend Adam Jones, neither Jones’ performance in the desert nor the progress of the young players the Orioles looked to as his replacements have done much to change opinions on what was the most polarizing part of the Orioles’ offseason.

There were two pretty clear camps: one believed that no matter the cost, Jones’ time in Baltimore was finished, and a younger crop of players who had a chance to be part of the next generation of winning Orioles clubs should get a chance. The other saw the possibility of last year’s 100-plus-loss season repeating itself and viewed the idea of bringing Jones back as a sign of goodwill to the fans that decided to come to Camden Yards all the same.

Both had plenty of merit. And what’s happened since has done little to sway either side.

Analysis: Former Orioles OF Adam Jones’ lengthy free agency part of growing team-building trend »
That center field has been a massively disappointing position for the Orioles this season makes letting Jones leave in free agency and ultimately sign a one-year, $3 million contract with the Diamondbacks tough to swallow. When Cedric Mullins was summoned to Baltimore last August to play center field, shifting Jones to right field, he was seen as the center fielder of the future.

He started out hot but struggled the last few weeks of the season, and didn’t really get going in spring training, either. Mullins was the Opening Day center fielder nonetheless, and went 6-for-64 (.093) before being sent to Triple-A Norfolk. He was knocked down a level further to Double-A Bowie at the All-Star break.

From Adam Jones’ heir to Double-A Bowie, Cedric Mullins demoted again to ‘get some positive mojo working’ »
It’s been a nightmare season for Mullins, and in addition to putting Stevie Wilkerson and Anthony Santander in center field with no real experience there, the Orioles brought in Keon Broxton, who struggled at the plate before being cut loose Sunday. The Orioles’ center fielders entered the weekend batting .198 with a .598 OPS, even if all have played well defensively.

Adam Jones of the Arizona Diamondbacks is congratulated by manager Torey Lovullo after scoring during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2019.
Adam Jones of the Arizona Diamondbacks is congratulated by manager Torey Lovullo after scoring during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2019. (Jeff Curry/Getty)
But major league performance wasn’t really the reason not to bring Jones back. It was so the likes of Mullins, Austin Hays, DJ Stewart, Santander and eventually Ryan McKenna and Yusniel Diaz could have a clear path to the majors when they’re ready. Ready, however, means something different than it did in the past. So the Orioles traded for Dwight Smith Jr. so he and Trey Mancini could occupy both corner outfield spots, and all of the young outfielders except Mullins started the year in the minors.

Stewart and Santander made it back to the majors eventually, with the former getting hurt shortly after arriving, while Hays has played well when healthy. McKenna and Diaz are still in Bowie, though they’ve played well of late.

Simply put, no one’s development would have been impacted in the slightest had the Orioles re-signed Jones. And yet, after a good first month or so, Jones has performed mostly at the levels he did in Baltimore in his first year with Arizona.

Entering Saturday’s games, he was hitting .271 with a .762 OPS and 13 home runs while rating better defensively in right field than he did toward the end of his time in center with the Orioles. From a baseball perspective, that would make him a tough fit in Baltimore, where Mancini has fit into the lineup in right field most often.

Jones might have been a steady bat in the lineup and helped the Orioles to a few more wins, and he certainly would be a player fans would be able to come to the ballpark and cheer for more so than the cast currently assembled.

But hardly anything this front office under executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has done since being hired in November has been with winning this year in mind as much as building a talent pipeline for the future.

Elias’ detachment from Jones’ decade-plus with the Orioles, even as he frequently said in the offseason how much respect he had for Jones and what he accomplished in Baltimore, made it easy for him to make it a baseball decision.

Whether that was cover for resentment on high for Jones exercising his vested veto rights on a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies last year, or simply a baseball decision, it seems like the idea of Jones returning got far more play outside of the Orioles’ offices than inside them. He said he never heard from the team before choosing Arizona, and still has an affinity for the city.

When an Orioles team that will be almost wholly unrecognizable to Jones arrives at Chase Field on Monday, the most accomplished Oriole on the field will be in Diamondbacks colors. Whether that should be the case is largely subjective, and probably reveals a lot about where one falls on this whole “rebuilding” thing going on in Baltimore.

Pedro Severino, left, and Mychal Givens of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 21, 2019.
Pedro Severino, left, and Mychal Givens of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 21, 2019. (Will Newton/Getty)
What’s to come?
With three games in Arizona before a week in Southern California facing the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres, this is the big, back-breaking western swing that always seems to happen this time of year.

As if that wasn’t difficult enough, it will be the week in which the Orioles are expected to accomplish a lot of their trading business ahead of the July 31 deadline. Dating to last year’s deadline, the mandate has been to cut payroll and get younger talent. Players who either are getting paid well or could be making more money soon — closer Mychal Givens, infielder Jonathan Villar, right-hander Dylan Bundy and outfielder Trey Mancini — could find their names popping up on the ticker before the deadline strikes.

It will make for an awkward dynamic on the road trip, but one most of the Orioles lived through before as last year’s deals shook up the clubhouse with the trades of Manny Machado, Zack Britton, Brad Brach, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman.

The Orioles’ Rio Ruiz follows through on a three-run home run off Tampa Bay Bays reliever Austin Pruitt during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 3, 2019.
The Orioles’ Rio Ruiz follows through on a three-run home run off Tampa Bay Bays reliever Austin Pruitt during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 3, 2019. (Steve Nesius / AP)
What was good?
With all due respect to Mancini and the host of Orioles who broke out of slumps this week, here’s one that hasn’t been in a slump at all: third baseman Rio Ruiz. He ended the last trip out west batting .220, the lowest his average was since early April, but in 15 games since, he’s batting .349 with a .918 OPS.

He’s being protected from left-handed pitching and is essentially in a left-right platoon at third base with Hanser Alberto. But between what’s been standout defense that rates near the top of the American League in most advanced metrics and some good fortune at the plate, Ruiz is pulling himself out of his funk and getting himself into a good place as the second half grinds on and he presents his case to be a big leaguer beyond 2019 with the Orioles.

Pedro Severino of the Orioles hits a single during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during game one of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 13, 2019.
Pedro Severino of the Orioles hits a single during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during game one of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 13, 2019. (Will Newton/Getty)
What wasn’t?
Catcher Pedro Severino was riding high after his three-homer game in Texas on June 4, after which he corrected a reporter who teed up a question by mentioning how he wasn’t traditionally a power-hitter. The next day, he had to leave the game after taking a foul ball to the mask in the first inning, and though he was cleared of concussion symptoms, his production took a tumble after that.

Severino was feasting on left-handers and batting .288 with a .939 OPS after that big game; since, he’s hit .229 with a .577 OPS. This slide coincided with the arrival of Chance Sisco that week in Texas, with Severino’s regular playing time waning, especially as Sisco has swung a good bat himself.

It’s noteworthy, however, that that week in Texas featured a pair of players in Severino and Dwight Smith Jr. who suffered head injuries and haven’t really gotten back on track since.

Bowie Baysox pitcher Alex Wells
Bowie Baysox pitcher Alex Wells (Bert Hindman/HANDOUT)
On the farm
Left-hander Alex Wells, by virtue of his status as a soft-tossing left-hander, will have to prove he can be effective at every level of the minors before getting his major league shot. He’s proven his brand of deception and his 86-88 mph fastball can yield incredible success in his first crack at Double-A Bowie this year.

Wells allowed two runs on four hits in eight innings Monday and followed it up with six shutout innings Saturday against Akron, striking out four and walking none in each outing. His ERA dropped to 1.83 in 93 2/3 innings with 70 strikeouts and a 0.99 WHIP.

After finishing his first two professional seasons with identical 0.91 WHIPs and ERAs of 2.15 and 2.38, respectively, before a bit of a step back last year at High-A Frederick, Wells doing this at Bowie only goes to show that he very well could be for real.

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The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly set to hire former major leaguer Anthony Sanders as their first base coach.
Originally reported by MLB.com’s Jon Morosi as being close to a done deal and since confirmed by Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star, the Baltimore Orioles are set to hire Anthony Sanders to be their new first base coach.

The move has not yet been confirmed by the Orioles, but MLB.com’s Joe Trezza also has a source that confirms the move.

The hiring leaves two open positions on Brandon Hyde’s coaching staff, bullpen coach (held by John Wasdin in 2019) and assistant hitting coach (formerly held by Howie Clark).

A seventh-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays back in 1992, Sanders’ playing career spanned from 1993-2006 and included stints with the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, and multiple rounds with the Blue Jays. He spent his final season of pro ball in Mexico, logging 25 games with two different teams.

Despite the long playing career, Sanders appeared in just 13 games at the major league level, going 6-25 with three doubles and six RBI.

After his playing career, Sanders joined the Colorado Rockies where he would serve in multiple roles, including player development, outfield coordinator, baserunning coordinator, hitting coach, and head coach of the rookie-level Grand Junction Rockies.

Source: Anthony Sanders close to being named #Orioles first base coach. The highly respected Sanders has worked the last 14 seasons in the #Rockies farm system as a manager and coach. Most recently, he was on the @USABaseball coaching staff at the @WBSC @Premier12. @MLB

Sanders brings with him an impressive resume, including earning Pioneer League Manager of the Year honors in 2014 with the Grand Junction Rockies. He also had a bit of experience with Team USA baseball before joining the coaching staff this year as their first base coach. He won a Gold Medal as a member of the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney, Australia.

Sanders replaces Arnie Beyeler, who served as the first base coach of the Orioles for just one season. Beyeler had a tough job last season, coaching an outfield that consisted of Stevie Wilkerson and a revolving door of center fielders, along with an out of position Trey Mancini and struggling defenders like Dwight Smith Jr and DJ Stewart.

With a manager and general manager in place, unlike last offseason, and a full offseason to evaluate and hire coaches both on the farm and at the major league level, it’s no surprise that there has been major shakeups up and down the organization.

Not having been a follower of Colorado Rockies minor league baseball or coaching staff, first-hand knowledge of Anthony Sanders and his work has to come from outside reports, all of which speak very highly of the former major leaguer.

Time will tell if this hire will work out, but for now, welcome to Birdland, Anthony Sanders.