On this week’s podcast, Jerry and Jason had the privilege of speaking with UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin, the inspirational star of this year’s NFL Combine. Griffin, who lost his left hand at age 4, has persevered through unimaginable circumstances throughout his life, continually finding himself undervalued and overlooked as he pursues his goal of playing football in the NFL. Now, Griffin’s dream appears likely to become a reality. After shocking scouts by bench-pressing 20 reps despite a prosthetic hand, Griffin ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker in Combine history, posting a 4.38 mark. Further, Griffin exhibited tremendous character in team interviews. No doubt, his draft stock has risen significantly. Griffin’s success has me thinking about the Ravens, who have a somewhat under-the-radar need at linebacker.
While defense will surely come second in this year’s draft, Baltimore could use both a pass-rusher and a counterpart to CJ Mosley inside. And, despite heavy attention being paid to offensive playmakers, the Ravens have a number of options at different points in the draft. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised – or frustrated, for that matter – if Ozzie Newsome grabbed a stud at one of these positions in the first round.
At pick 16, it appears increasingly unlikely that a skill-position offensive player will make sense. Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley may not be available, and Maryland wideout DJ Moore is likely more of a second-round prospect. While an offensive lineman could certainly be in play, there are a few players that would be quite intriguing if available. First, if the Ravens want to pair Mosley with a fast, athletic linebacker and create a scary duo in the middle of the defense, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith fits the bill. A sideline-to-sideline defender, Smith would be an excellent complement to Mosley and would fill what is likely the defense’s largest hole. Other options at ILB are Alabama’s Rashaan Evans and Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. Both are similarly exciting talents, and Vander Esch continues to see his stock climb, though neither are receiving quite as much praise as Georgia’s Smith.
At EDGE, Baltimore would have to seriously consider pouncing on UTSA lineman Marcus Davenport if he were available. Davenport has a rare blend of size and speed, and could immediately provide an heir to Terrell Suggs’ throne. However, because of his immense potential, Davenport is probably the least likely of these prospects to be on the board at pick 16. So, Baltimore could look to bolster their pass rush by selecting Boston College standout Harold Landry. After an outstanding 2016-17 season, Landry took a step back this past year and suffered an injury that left some wondering if his NFL potential was declining. But, after an impressive Combine and a seemingly successful recovery, Landry is firmly planted as a first-round selection and has rejuvenated the excitement that was following him the year prior. What’s more, it is very likely that Landry will be available when the Ravens pick, and though many think he is more fit for a back-end selection, if Baltimore feels that he is a strong choice, don’t be surprised if his name is on their card.
Beyond the first-round of the draft, Baltimore has a few options to solve the pass rush (this year’s draft is somewhat dry in that area), and a plethora of options at ILB. The most obvious choice if Baltimore elects to take an EDGE player is LSU’s Arden Key. Key, an extremely talented player with a first-round grade, has seen his stock drop because of off-the-field issues. He reminds me a lot of last year’s pick Tim Williams, and if he fell to Baltimore in the third-round, I would support his selection. Another option on day two is Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Undersized for his position, Okoronkwo has seen his draft stock slide despite impressive numbers in 2017-18. However, the pass-rusher could follow in the footsteps of a former Raven and Bronco, the similarly undersized Elvis Dumervil; his productivity makes him worth a mid-round pick.
At inside linebacker, the Ravens could find multiple mid-to-late-round names appealing. In rounds 2 or 3, Vanderbilt’s Oren Burks possesses impressive coverage and ball skills that would make him an intriguing option alongside Mosley. Other day-two names include Iowa’s Josey Jewell, whose production overshadows his physical gifts, and South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard, a Senior Bowl player who has a knack for getting behind the line of scrimmage. In the later rounds, the most intriguing name – in my opinion – is Virginia’s Micah Kiser. A 6’0” linebacker, Kiser is a hometown product of Gilman. While he doesn’t possess the speed of some other ILB prospects, Kiser is an instinctive and willing tackler that would improve the Ravens run defense. Another option at ILB is a more developmental player: Florida State’s Matthew Thomas. A player with special physical gifts, Thomas is 6’4” and fast. Unfortunately, his first-round potential is dampened by his apparent lack of awareness, which will likely make him a day three selection. Still, the Ravens have a track record of producing successful linebackers seemingly out of nowhere, and Thomas’ physical traits would leave the defensive coaches with a lot to work with.
However, despite all the names I just listed, the most intriguing prospect – and one who could possibly play either position – is this week’s guest Shaquem Griffin. At Central Florida, Griffin produced consistently impressive numbers that were backed by his awe-inspiring Combine performance. Aside from his on-the-field potential, though, Griffin would be a surefire leader in a Ravens locker room that – as many fans have discussed before – has lacked one since the departure of Ed Reed and retirement of Ray Lewis. Griffin’s story is inspiring, his play on the field is exciting, his potential is immense, and I would love to see him wearing purple come September.
The Baltimore Ravens are rumored to be one of the favorites to land WR Jarvis Landry via trade. With an obvious need for a dynamic, chain-moving pass-catcher, the move would excite many fans and could bring the offense closer to where it needs to be. This rumor has a fair amount of legitimacy, too. After all, Baltimore attempted to trade for Landry at this year’s deadline, and one could assume that they might still hold interest. In addition, Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome have both stated that the top priority for Baltimore’s offseason is to bring playmakers into the locker room. Newsome added fuel to the fire at this weekend’s NFL scouting combine, when he suggested that the wide receiver group will receive a complete overhaul. Still, how likely is it that the Ravens pull the trigger on a trade? And, if they do, would it even be worth it?
Landry signed his franchise tag with the Miami Dolphins this week, giving him a $16 million cap number if the Ravens decide to take him on. While this number would strap the team against their budget for the offseason, it would likely be restructured into a long-term deal. If the Ravens do not feel confident that they could sign Landry to a multi-year contract, they will not commit to a trade. Regardless, Jarvis Landry will command a sizeable contract. The Ravens will have to love his talent and feel he will instantly revamp the offense. This brings our attention to his skillset.
Jarvis Landry has arguably been the most successful slot receiver in the NFL since he entered the league in 2014. Averaging just over 100 receptions per season, Landry would certainly provide a safety blanket that QB Joe Flacco could trust. However, the primary knock on Landry is his lack of YAC (yards after the catch). Last season, the wideout averaged 8.8 yards per reception, meaning his after-the-catch playmaking ability – something the Ravens desperately need – is lacking. Is such small productivity worth $16 million? Likely not. What’s important to remember, too, is that Baltimore will not only have to cough up the money for the 6-foot wideout, but it will also have to complete a trade with the Miami Dolphins to acquire him in the first place. And, judging from similar trades in years past, their price tag could be high. For example, the New England Patriots acquired WR Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints last offseason. They exchanged him for a first-round pick. While Cooks is more prolific a target than Landry, Miami could demand a second or third-round pick. Considering the plethora of pass-catchers in those mid-rounds in this year’s draft, I would rather have the opportunity to select a real dynamic player – perhaps Maryland’s DJ Moore or Memphis’ Anthony Miller – than bring in Landry.
There’s no question that Jarvis Landry would improve the Ravens’ passing attack; he is a reliable target with good hands and strong route-running skills. To that point, I would support his acquisition if Baltimore was able to trade for him without draining their few mid-round draft picks. If Miami would part with Landry for a 2018 5th-round pick and a 2019 4th-round pick, I think it would behoove the Ravens to agree. Baltimore could subsequently look to extend Landry on a $12-14 million contract, allowing them to make a few smaller moves in the offseason. Trading for Jarvis Landry would be quite the statement; it would bring in a young receiver with All-Pro potential. However, trading for Jarvis Landry would not be an immediate fix for the numerous holes in Baltimore’s offense. They would still need a big, red-zone target and deep-threat at receiver, as well as a pass-catching tight end. Landry’s contract would likely force the Ravens to address each of these needs in the draft. For this reason, Jarvis Landry – in my opinion – is not worth the investment.
Hello there, Jason La Canfora here, hope you all are well! Wanted to pass something along that might make sense for your businesses.. I mentor two youngsters through a program called Boys Hope/Girls Hope of Baltimore (I am also on the board for the charity), and we have a big event upcoming with various sponsorship opportunities. ‘
Basically, we identify highly motivated kids from high-risk situations and give them an opportunity to live in a controlled group setting during the school year – we get them scholarships with various private schools (Calvert Hall, Gilman, St. Paul’s, Curley, Loyola, NDP, etc) and provide meals, transportation to schools and after-school activities through the program.
The scholars must stay out of trouble, maintain their grades, get jobs and participate in regular community service. One of the kids I worked with got a full ride to LaSalle and one is on a full ride to Dickinson and I am just now starting to work with another kid in the program. We expose the kids to corporations and sporting events and cultural events they would never otherwise see and work very closely with them through the college decision and post-college life.
It’s been fairly life-changing and my family has come to care for these kids as part of the family. One of our biggest fundraisers is upcoming – the 17th year of our golf tournament at Sparrows Point Country Club – and I have attached details of our sponsorship opportunities should it be something you guys might be interested in.
Unfortunately, I will be out of town covering the NFL draft on April 27, when the event is held, but the podcast is going to sponsor some things with the event and I will definitely be there in spirit (given my golf swing limitations it’s best I stay off the course, anyway). Thanks so much for your time and support and look forward to seeing you down the line. If you have any questions about any of this – or are interested in become involved with BHGH yourself – please let me know.
Spring Training is upon us! My favorite time of the year to listen to sports radio to hear the idiot callers complain about how the Orioles lost to the Reds 7-3 in a B team scrimmage, therefore they have no depth and have no chance at winning more than 60 games. It’s overreaction season and it’s quite entertaining. A couple of years ago, the Orioles lost their first ten games of spring training and sports radio was losing its freaking mind. ‘Buck has lost dees guys, they can’t even win a game down ere spring, how day gonna beat dem yankees?” Or another caller, ‘I paid good money to fly my mistress and my dying son down ere Sarasota, and his last wish was to see Chris Davis play ball. Chris Davis ain’t even play and now my son is deader den a snitch on the police force.’ Well sir, I’m sorry about your son but maybe you should have taken his mother on the final trip instead of your son’s third grade teacher who you have been, ‘ meeting with to discuss how to make his last year in school comfortable. ‘It’s not Chris Davis’ fault that your son’s dying wish was to see him take third strikes. It’s not Chris Davis’ fault that you had been putting a tablespoon of antifreeze in all of your son’s Gatorades for the last 5 months. It’s your fault for thinking that spring training is about anything else but getting ready for opening day.Continue Reading …
The Baltimore Orioles kicked off their 2018 Spring Training campaign in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday afternoon. As fans energetically packed Ed Smith Stadium, the birds stepped back onto the diamond for competition once again, hoping for better results than last season, which ended in a 75-87 record – good enough for last in the AL East.
The main story of this exhibition – as the case will be for most of them – was the performance of a fringe starting pitcher hoping to crack the MLB roster as the 5th member of the rotation. Mike Wright, a familiar face for O’s fans, took the ball first, pitching 2 innings of 1-run ball. Wright started the game surrendering a walk, single and sac-fly to give Tampa Bay an early lead, but quickly buckled down, orchestrating a 1-2-3 inning – with a strikeout – in the second. While he finished the outing strong, Friday afternoon was a microcosm of Mike Wright’s time with the Orioles: glimpses of brilliance clouded by more-frequent showings of inconsistency. Wright will continue to get a look, though, because there is no question that he has the physical tools to succeed on the major league level. He will have to show that the mental makeup – consistency, composure, poise – is there.
Another pitcher looking to prove himself and make the 25-man roster – Chris Lee – followed Wright in the 3rd inning. Lee, whose fastball sat around 94 mph, has also struggled with consistency; he will have to prove that he can regularly throw strikes. His first inning was shaky, allowing a double, single and walk to load the bases before recording a single out. Impressively enough, however, Lee orchestrated a 4-6-3 double-play and a groundout to Machado to limit the damage. In his second inning, Lee recorded 2 strikeouts before allowing a double. He got out of the inning unharmed, though, forcing a pop out to retire the side. Lee will likely start the season at Triple-A Norfolk, but – with the talent very much there – could provide a lift if he sorts out his inconsistencies.
As for the position players, little came of the projected starters as the O’s were shut out until their last at-bats in the bottom of the 9th inning. Tim Beckham – yes, the 3rd baseman – led the game off with an infield single, but all other returning starters were held hitless. Anthony Santander, a rule-5 pick that the Orioles will need to keep on the roster for 44 games if they want to keep the outfielder, laced a double into the right-centerfield gap. A favorite for the 4th or 5th outfielder spot, Santander will solidify his position on the MLB team if he continues to show potential as a hitter. MLB Pipeline considers him the Orioles’ 8th-best prospect. Two other outfielders who are big league hopefuls, CF Cedric Mullins and corner-outfielder DJ Stewart, replaced starters in the 6th inning. Mullins, who burst onto the scene in Sarasota last year, left 3 men on-base after going 0-2 with a K. Stewart, however, singled in the bottom of the 9th inning, scoring on Chance Sisco’s 3-run homer that followed a Ryan Mountcastle double. This sequence was an energizing end to a slow game, showing the potential that lies in the Orioles minor league system. While Stewart and Mountcastle may start the year in Double-A Bowie, Sisco is vouching for the backup catcher role. The home run will certainly help his case.
Friday’s game was somewhat sluggish, especially as the regulars struggled to get on-base, but the excitement around the team is still there. No matter how promising this 2018 season looks to be, the return of baseball is always welcome in Baltimore, and personally, I can’t wait to get back out to the Yard. Let’s hope it’s to see a winning team.
On Thursday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles announced that they have reached a 2-year agreement with free agent starting pitcher Andrew Cashner. The first major league signing of this stagnant offseason, Cashner will make an average of $8 million each season, a relatively cheap contract considering his experience in the MLB. The reaction has been mostly positive, especially from major media outlets, and it appears that the O’s have finally begun addressing their biggest roster hole.
Cashner has bounced around the league over his 8-year career, spending time with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, and Texas Rangers, but is coming off one of his strongest seasons. With a 42-64 record in 137 career starts, Cashner has pitched to a respectable 3.80 earned run average. In 2017, the right-hander went 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA in Texas’ hitter-friendly ballpark. Traditionally a ground-ball pitcher, Cashner has the repertoire of pitches to acclimate to the similarly small Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Baltimore desperately needed starting pitching, as the only returning starters are Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. And, while the addition of Andrew Cashner has certainly improved the rotation, there is still plenty of work to be done. Two rotation spots remain, and though the Orioles may have internal options to fill the holes, most – if not all – of these candidates were given a chance to prove themselves last season. The names have become all too familiar: Mike Wright, Gabriel Ynoa, Alec Asher, Chris Lee; the list goes on. To provide competition, Dan Duquette and company have brought in RHP Michael Kelly and Rule-5 southpaw Nestor Cortes.
Another move that appears increasingly likely is the return of Chris Tillman, who posted a dreadful 7.84 ERA in his walk year. For the O’s to have success in 2018, at least one of these seven names will have to provide consistent innings at the back-end of the rotation, and those innings will have to supplement an even more consistent front three in Bundy, Gausman, and Cashner.
Another option – and one that most Orioles fans would love to see come to fruition – that Duquette could pursue is signing a second upper-level arm. Of those available, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are the most enticing. While a reunion with Arrieta would certainly be a heartwarming coup for the Orioles, it is rather unlikely because of his contract. Even though Baltimore signed Cashner to a relatively cheap contract, the O’s are a medium-market team and Arrieta is demanding top dollar. Still, Cobb and Lynn would be welcome additions with the potential to immediately slot into the “Ace” role in the Orioles’ rotation. Theoretically, if Baltimore landed one of these two arms in addition to Chris Tillman, their patchwork rotation could be strong enough to stay afloat in the ultra-competitive AL-East. Here’s what such a rotation could look like:
- Lance Lynn (RHP)/Alex Cobb (RHP)
- Dylan Bundy (RHP)
- Kevin Gausman (RHP)
- Andrew Cashner (RHP)
- Chris Tillman (RHP)
Of course, Baltimore could benefit from a left-handed arm somewhere in the mix, but let’s face it, beggars can’t be choosers. If this was the rotation the Orioles wheeled out in April, the average career ERA would be 4.01 with Alex Cobb and 3.98 with Lance Lynn. Neither number is outstanding, but considering Baltimore’s recent years, anything close to this ERA would be more than welcome.
The Baltimore Orioles have a long way to go before they can be recognized as a potential contender in 2018, but the first step towards this reality is addressing the rotation. Signing Andrew Cashner this week was a strong start – he will be a much-needed innings-eater in the middle of the rotation – but two vacant spots still need to be filled. The slow-developing offseason has allowed Baltimore to wait things out, but Dan Duquette better have done his due diligence. If the Orioles enter the season without making another MLB-level addition to the pitching staff, they better get results or else – as their NFL counterparts like to suggest – “the pitchforks will be out”.
As the Orioles’ pitchers and catchers report to good ol’ Sarasota, we here at the B-More Opinionated podcast are brushing off the dust and kicking off a new season of relentless venting about our favorite birds of Baltimore!
Jason and Jerry delve into an early preview of Spring Training, and run down some of their hopes and goals for this team (spoiler alert: they’re pretty low). They talk about the O’s chances to enter a rebuild with a new young core, as well as the seemingly constant frustration with those in the Warehouse (Hi, guys!)
Then, we bring in Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and MLB Network to help bring some perspective to the Orioles’ conversation. Heyman has been breaking news about the O’s more than anyone in the last year, and he discusses the handcuffs of ownership, the chances the birds spend or rebuild, as well as Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter’s futures in Baltimore.
And as always we have Adam’s homework, Jason’s Married Guy Rant, and much more!