After the Baltimore Orioles uninspiring start to the 2018 campaign, the flaws that have plagued the team, the management, and the front office in years past appear relevant once again. Over-aggressive hitting has resulted in piles of strikeouts, poor bullpen management has lost at least one game, and dumpster-fire additions have stunted the development and emergence of key prospects. All of this has me thinking – and realizing – just how badly the Orioles have spoiled their future.
Yes, I have written on this subject before, focusing on their inability to deal Manny Machado and receive a quality return and therefore jeopardizing a quick rebuild. This week, I realized that – though that has become the present issue – the current state of the team would have been much more promising if the team hadn’t made a grave mistake two years ago. When the Orioles resigned first-baseman Chris Davis, they crippled their future far more than we realized at the time. Here’s why:
Despite his disastrous numbers since signing the contract, the commitment the team made to Chris Davis has strapped them at the position. For starters, Davis’ contract forced now fan-favorite Trey Mancini to shift from his natural position to the outfield. While that transition has gone smoothly for Mancini, the Orioles’ depth in the outfield – especially in the coming years with Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, DJ Stewart and Ademar Rifaela – creates a logjam. If the O’s had let Davis walk, Mancini could have filled in at first base and the team could have implemented an outfield platoon or orchestrated a trade to further bolster the roster.
In addition, if the team hadn’t invested so heavily in Chris Davis, perhaps they would be willing to do so for Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, the team’s real stars. And this fact is crucial because the team is closer to relevancy than many believe. If the Orioles locked up their cornerstone players for the next 5 years, it is quite possible that their farm system could surround the two stars with the pieces necessary to win a championship.
The Baltimore Orioles biggest problem has been its pitching. That’s why they collapsed last year; it’s why they have skeptics this year. While part of that has been the owner’s unwillingness to sign pitchers (or, if they do, signing the wrong ones), the primary issue has been the lack of development by high draft picks devoted to pitching. However, the Orioles have a fair number of pitching prospects moving forward, and they could be the makings of a solid rotation in the coming years. While Dylan Bundy figures to be the team’s ace moving forward (he looks the part, too), hurlers such as Hunter Harvey, Keegan Akin, and David Hess look on the verge of breaking the major league roster. Further down in the minors there are even more prospects. 2017 1st-round pick DL Hall, who the Orioles felt was a steal at their position, will enter his first full professional season and looks to be an exciting left-handed arm. Alex Wells, another southpaw from Australia has thrived so far in his career, owns the “best control and command in the Orioles’ system,” according to MLB.com. He is the Orioles #11 prospect and pitched to a 2.38 ERA at Delmarva last season. Following Wells is 2016 draft pick, Cody Sedlock, a right-hander who pitched at the University of Illinois. Although his debut season was somewhat underwhelming, Sedlock could prove to be a valuable back-end starter at some point down the road.
While contemplating the Orioles’ farm system, I came up with what I think the roster could look like 3 years from now. For the purpose of this article, I will have one column showing a lineup with Chris Davis and without Manny Machado or Jonathan Schoop, as well as a second column showing the opposite outcome.
2021 Pitching Rotation:
- Dylan Bundy (RHP)
- Hunter Harvey (RHP)
- Kevin Gausman (RHP)
- Alex Wells (LHP)
- Keegan Akin
** At this point in time, Cody Sedlock and DL Hall would likely be knocking at the door, and Alex Cobb could still be in play considering he is on a 4-year deal.
2021 Lineup/Defense W/ Davis 2021 Lineup/Defense W/O Davis
- Cedric Mullins – CF 1. Cedric Mullins – CF
- Austin Hays – RF 2. Austin Hays – RF
- Trey Mancini – LF 3. Manny Machado – SS
- Chris Davis – 1B 4. Trey Mancini – 1B
- Ryan Mountcastle – 3B 5. Jonathan Schoop – 2B
- Tim Beckham – SS 6. Ryan Mountcastle – DH
- Anthony Santander – DH 7. Tim Beckham – 3B
- Chance Sisco – C 8. Anthony Santander – LF
- Second Baseman (No Prospects) 9. Chance Sisco – C
In my opinion (and I’d imagine, the opinions of many others), the lineup without Chris Davis is far better than the other, as it has a blend of speed, power, and – most importantly – contact. Considering the projections of the prospects listed above (that is, Mullins, Hays, Mountcastle), this order would not only be as feared but likely more feared than today’s Orioles lineup. Supporting that offense with a deeper, more balanced and – hopefully – more consistent pitching rotation could mean danger for other AL teams.
Unfortunately, though, Chris Davis is still in the club, Manny Machado will be long gone, perhaps wearing pinstripes or dodger-blue, and Jonathan Schoop will be reaping the benefits of a new contract – let’s just hope it’s with the Orioles. And even though a portion of this week’s blog should serve as a source of hope, as the O’s do have some talent in their system, it should be taken with a grain of salt, as the outlook would be so much more hopeful if the Orioles had handled their business wisely just three offseasons ago.
Adam Jones’ walk-off home run on Thursday afternoon marked the Orioles’ 8th straight Opening Day win and capped off an absolutely awesome day. The 3-2 11th inning win was reminiscent of the past 2 Opening Day games; each of which ended with a walk-off, first a single by Matt Wieters, second a home run by Mark Trumbo. Needless to say, there’s something special about Opening Day, especially in Baltimore.
For Orioles fans, many of which have sat through over a decade of exhausting, brutal losing seasons, Opening Day offers a revived sense of hope – a hope that has, in recent years, become more realistic. This year, as the fanbase is seemingly split with high and low expectations, the O’s victory on Opening Day had everyone leaving happy and excited for the season to come.
While Adam Jones’ late-game heroics were certainly enough to inspire, they should not overshadow what a terrific baseball game was played on Thursday. Jake Odorizzi tossed 6 shutout innings, holding the Orioles to 2 hits, but Dylan Bundy outdid him, going 7 scoreless innings with 7 strikeouts. The two hurlers matched each other pitch for pitch, keeping batters off-balance and fans on the edge of their seats. Every pitch was crucial, like a playoff game. That’s why right-fielder Craig Gentry catch robbing Eddie Rosario of a 2nd-inning home run was not only amazing but also clutch. Then, after 6 ⅔ innings of scoreless baseball, Caleb Joseph came through with a 2-out, 2-run triple into the right-centerfield gap, giving the Orioles their first lead of the season. Still, just as the O’s appeared poised to close out their first win of 2018, the Twins stormed back on Brad Brach.
Brach, who opened the season in Zach Britton’s closer role, struggled to find the plate, and eventually surrendered a 2-run, game-tying blooper to pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman. Camden Yards was shocked. All of a sudden the hope that came with the Opening Day spectacle was sucked from the ballpark. That is – until two innings later, when Adam Jones jumped on the first pitch from Fernando Rodney and sent it into the left-field stands.
As the masses filed out of Camden Yards, Adam Jones was everyone’s favorite player, and rightfully so. He is the undeniable leader of the team; he’s been that since his first Opening Day with the O’s 11 seasons ago. As a young adult, he’s been the leader for as long as I remember, and as that, Adam Jones is indispensable. Thursday afternoon showed why. In a game where the offense was struggling to get on base, much less score, the captain was 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. And yet, as the game moved to the bottom of the 11th inning, there was nobody I would have rather had led off. With Adam Jones, you know that at the least, you will get his best effort. He will not go down without a fight; he will not go down without having a good at-bat. All it took was one pitch, but Adam Jones brought everyone to their feet in a hurry. He put the team, and the entire fanbase, on his back, as he usually does, illustrating his importance to the city.
With all the Orioles players set for free agency at the end of this season, one player should be the absolute priority: Adam Jones. For all that he’s done for the Orioles, for his role as the face of the franchise and the face of the franchise’s revival, Adam Jones should be rewarded. He is a lifetime Oriole, and the front office had better make him one.
IT’S FINALLY HERE!
Our favorite holiday of the sports calendar is upon us as Opening Day has reached Baltimore! The boys talk all thing O’s, go over our annual Over/Under predictions, discuss final roster decisions, and more!
Then, we’re joined by MLB.com’s resident prospect guru Jonathan Mayo to break down the O’s farm system and help predict which baby birds we may see in Baltimore before the season is out.
Plus, we have the long awaited debut of Adam’s new Orioles theme song! And as always Jason’s Married Guy Rant is a treat. Listen on your way into the game, and Go O’s hon!
Well, the Orioles finally gave in to the well-overdue prospect of signing Alex Cobb this week, filling the hole in their rotation in the process. The meaning of this addition is obvious, but important to state: Alex Cobb, when at his best, will make the Orioles a competitive team in the AL. But, in relation to the conference elites – the Astros, Indians, Yankees and Red Sox, as of now – how competitive can the O’s really be? In this week’s blog, I will answer that question and others. Before beginning, though, I must make two things clear. First, I will assume that the backup catcher role will be won by Andrew Susac. Second, injuries will not factor into my projections; I will assume that everyone will be fully healthy throughout the season. Now, without further ado, I present my predictions for the 2018 MLB season.
Orioles Everyday Lineup and Statistics (AVG/HR/RBI):
- 3B Tim Beckham – .263/21/68
- LF Trey Mancini – .285/28/74
- SS Manny Machado – .327/38/123
- CF Adam Jones – .272/24/82
- 2B Jonathan Schoop – .304/27/98
- 1B Chris Davis – .243/33/86
- DH Mark Trumbo – .259/13/39
- C Caleb Joseph – .248/15/45
- RF Anthony Santander – .251/18/51
Orioles Starting Rotation and W-L/ERA
- Alex Cobb – 16-7/3.42
- Dylan Bundy – 14-10/3.76
- Kevin Gausman – 13-8/3.88
- Chris Tillman – 11-9/4.15
- Andrew Cashner – 10-12/4.53
A few notes from the previous two sets of predictions:
- Yes, I believe that Manny Machado will have a career year and will be in the thick of the MVP race. He is in a walk year and wants to get paid. I just wish it was by the Orioles.
- Anthony Santander has impressed me this spring, and by mid-May, I expect him to have surpassed Colby Rasmus as the regular right fielder.
- You may have noticed that Mark Trumbo’s stats are drastically down from his typical performance. This will be explained further in my…
Bold Predictions for the 2018 Season
- The Orioles will trade Mark Trumbo by the end of June to make room for OF Austin Hays. After doing so, Anthony Santander will replace Trumbo as the everyday DH and Hays will play RF.
- The Orioles will keep Manny Machado and once more push for a deep playoff run.
- Baltimore will have 4 players (Machado, Schoop, Mancini, represent them in the 2018 All-Star Game.
- Chris Davis will belt 15 home runs in the month of August, propelling the Orioles back into contention for the division crown.
- The New York Yankees will fail to reach the postseason.
I’d imagine this last prediction may leave you shaking your head and wondering how I have the division shaking out. Here it is.
2018 AL East Standings (W-L)
- Boston Red Sox: 95-67
- Baltimore Orioles: 88-74
- Toronto Blue Jays: 82-80
- New York Yankees: 79-83
- Tampa Bay Rays: 68-94
And now for the AL as a whole, in order of playoff seeding:
- Cleveland Indians: 100-62
- Houston Astros: 97-65
- Boston Red Sox: 95-67
Wild Card Teams:
- Baltimore Orioles: 88-74
- Minnesota Twins: 87-75
A month ago I wrote a rather critical article on the Orioles, expressing doubt for their 2018 season outlook. As you can see, my feelings have changed. The addition of Alex Cobb will solidify the rotation and provide the anchor that the team has lacked since 2014, with (the good) Chris Tillman and (the even better) Wei-Yin Chen. Finally, the Orioles will have the sound pitching that complements an offense that will mash. I expect 2018 to be an exciting year in Baltimore, as they integrate youth into the core of players we have grown to love over the past 6 seasons. This team has been successful before, and I believe that they will be successful again. Let’s hope I’m right.
We’re just a week away from Opening Day and the Orioles are…. listening to our pleas?!
Jason and Jerry go in-depth on the newest addition to the Orioles, Alex Cobb, as well as the further developments of Spring Training.
Then we head to Sarasota where Jerry was able to catch up with Orioles Director of Player Development, Brian Graham! Brian gives us the lowdown on all of our (Jason’s) minor league curiosities, including Ryan Mountcastle, DJ Stewart, Tanner Scott, Stevie Wilkerson, and more of our favorites from down the farm!
The boys also discuss another week in NFL Free Agency, including the Ravens’ exciting addition of WR Michael Crabtree.
And as always, we have our homework, Jason’s Married Guy Rant, and much more. Check it out!
Tiger Woods! Yeah, there was some pretty decent basketball this weekend. Yeah, UMBC became the first 16 seed to knock off a one seed since 2004, when, Lisa Fink knocked off Jennifer Lopez in the ’64 hottest women alive’ bracket, hosted in my basement.Continue Reading …
The upheaval of the Ravens’ wide receiver room has begun. On Wednesday night, the team announced that it had reached agreements with two pass-catchers: former Cardinals burner John Brown and former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant. However, as the new league year officially began on Thursday afternoon, a surprising turn of events left Grant’s contract null and void. The 6’0” wideout failed his physical with the Ravens because of an ankle injury that doctors later revealed was suffered in the final week of the regular season. Interestingly enough, though, this may have proven to be a blessing-in-disguise for the Ravens (and some fans even believe the results were calculated, but more on that later).
The signing of John Brown is simple enough; it makes sense. The Ravens were looking to get faster on offense, improving their big-play ability while finding more reliable targets for Joe Flacco. When healthy, Brown is a home-run hitter. As Newsome claims, he can run the entire route-tree efficiently and can track down a deep pass well. The key for Brown, as it has been for many receivers, is to stay healthy, which is why he was seeking a 1 year “prove it” deal at $5M. Brown is a boom-or-bust signing with the potential to oust former 1st-round pick Breshad Perriman as the primary deep-threat on the current roster. The talent is there, as Brown is 2 years removed from a 1,000-yard, 7 touchdown season. The main question will be whether or not he stays on the field enough to replicate those numbers.
The controversial signing is Ryan Grant. Despite Grant’s strong hands and impressive route-running ability, the Ravens would have inked him to a shockingly pricey contract at 4 years for $29M. Many questioned whether the cost matched the productivity. For instance, Grant has never had a 100-yard receiving game in his career, and he failed to significantly impact a Redskins offense that needs wide receivers itself. And, somewhat unsurprisingly, fans criticize owner Steve Bisciotti, citing his prediction that the franchise would “make a splash” in free agency. So far, after whiffing on high-profile receiver Allen Robinson and even the mediocre Donte Moncrief and Marqise Lee, Ozzie Newsome has failed to do so. Still, Ryan Grant would have provided a young, controllable receiver that would have acted as a building block for Baltimore’s new offense. While most critics looked at Grant’s contract and believed that he was meant to be the new #1 receiver, this was not the case. Rather, Grant would have likely been a secondary receiver, with reliable hands to help move the chains. The Ravens were not done, and Newsome supported this at Friday morning’s press conference by stating that the Ravens would have continued to pursue receivers after signing Grant.
Now, here’s where the previously-mentioned blessing-in-disguise comes into play. On Thursday afternoon, the Oakland Raiders signed former Green Bay Packer receiver Jordy Nelson and subsequently cut wideout Michael Crabtree. From the get-go, Crabtree – who has since stated that he grew up a Ravens fan – was linked to Baltimore, and he quickly scheduled a meeting with the team. On Friday, the two sides committed to a 3 year, $21M deal, noticeably more favorable than the one they gave to Grant. Even though Crabtree is slightly older than Grant, he is equally reliable and provides a more daunting red-zone target (Crabtree caught 25 touchdowns in his 3 years in Oakland). The Ravens will hope that Crabtree will replicate these statistics in Baltimore, where he’s had success in the past. Crabtree has caught 4 touchdowns in their last 2 meetings, including a game-winner in the back of the end zone in 2016.
The main reason that Crabtree’s signing is so beneficial for Baltimore, though, is that it gives the team considerable flexibility moving forward. While Grant’s contract may have left Baltimore with room to make 1 last signing, Crabtree’s likely means that the Ravens could add 2 more players. One of these targets appears to be another cap-casualty, former Lions TE Eric Ebron. A strictly pass-catching tight end, Ebron could be a dynamic target over the middle of the field and provide explosiveness that the Ravens have severely lacked at the position. He currently has visits to three other teams lined up, though, so Baltimore will have to make an enticing offer for him to don purple next year. While it is also entirely possible that Newsome decides to add to the offensive line with the remainder of the team’s cap, I will stick – for the sake of this blog’s title – to name offensive players that team brass could be interested in.
The most obvious choice is Mike Wallace. The 31-year-old has garnered little excitement thus far, and as a result, his price could drop right into the Ravens’ range. What’s more, Wallace has already established a rapport with Flacco, meaning his fit in the offense would be seamless. Pairing Wallace with Crabtree, Brown, and a draft pick would give the Ravens an interesting group.
Another option is former Brown and Redskin Terrelle Pryor. One year removed from a breakout season, Pryor bet on himself with a one year deal in Washington only to watch himself lose snaps to guys like, well, Ryan Grant. While a reunion with Cleveland appears imminent, Pryor would give the Ravens a potentially dominant outside receiver opposite Crabtree.
At tight end, Baltimore’s options are somewhat limited, but Martellus Bennett and Julius Thomas are intriguing options. Both have had up and down careers, but when used frequently have put up impressive numbers. Flacco loves to throw to tight ends, it’s quite possible that he could get the best out of them.
Baltimore is likely to make at least one more move to improve the offense before the 2018 NFL Draft, it’s only a matter of whether or not that player is at wide receiver or tight end. Regardless, by adding speedster John Brown and Anquan Boldin-esque receiver Michael Crabtree, the Ravens have started their revamp nicely. If the rest of the offseason is handled well, the purple and black could find themselves back in contention next winter.