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!
In last Friday’s State of the Ravens press conference, owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged the lack of playmakers on offense, suggesting that the Ravens will find the cash to “make a splash” in free agency, if the right situation presents itself. Interestingly enough, Bisciotti also mentioned that Kevin Byrne needed to remind him to remain wary of “tampering,” or contacting players who are still officially under contract. These comments sparked significant excitement about the team’s plans for this offseason, especially considering the number of needs on offense. However, two players have received the most attention in these rumors: TE Jimmy Graham and WR Jarvis Landry.
Bisciotti’s clear desire to address last year’s stagnant offense certainly hints towards an aggressive pursuit of these players. After all, both are elite players at their position and have a proven NFL track record; each would fill a significant hole. Landry, who is currently under contract with the Miami Dolphins, is a 3-time Pro Bowler and a reliable target in the middle of the field. He is explosive after the catch and would bring a new dimension to a Ravens offense that has lacked consistency for the past few seasons. He has garnered interest from Ravens fans since the offseason began, and it appears that he has caught the eye of Ozzie Newsome as well. It appears that Landry was on the block at the trade deadline this past season, with the Ravens one of the teams heavily involved in talks. If this is the case, it can be assumed that Baltimore continues to hold interest and could pounce in free agency.
Graham, who has spent the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, is a dominant pass-catching tight end, though his most impressive seasons were with the New Orleans Saints. Jimmy Graham would also provide a reliable target over the middle of the field, particularly in the red-zone. In 2013, when Graham was a first-team All-Pro with the Saints, he caught an incredible 16 touchdowns, a nod toward his immense potential. Joe Flacco has held a strong rapport with multiple TEs in the past, namely Todd Heap, Dennis Pitta, and Benjamin Watson. For this reason, many believe that Baltimore is a logical landing spot for Graham. No question, he would be a welcome addition, a new safety blanket for Flacco.
Both players would fill immediate needs, and both would bring the offense closer to where it needs to be. If choosing between the two, the Ravens really can’t go wrong. So, who is more likely to be donning the purple and black in September? That, like most things these days, will come down to how much Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh value the player when compared to his price tag.
Jarvis Landry is the best receiver in free agency this offseason, and as such, he will demand a large salary. As of now, Landry is projected to land a 4-year, $58 million contract. This number, averaging $14.5 million a year would significantly restrict the Ravens. They would have to restructure at least one contract to make this happen, and any hope of resigning C Ryan Jensen or G James Hurst would be gone. Graham would present a cheaper option, perhaps cutting Landry’s number in half. Of course, this is only logical, as Graham is in the late stages of his prime at 31 years old and plays a position that is quite simply less expensive.
This brings us to the choice the Ravens should end up making this spring: signing TE Jimmy Graham. While Landry would provide more long-term cover, the team has too many holes to commit to his salary when a position of similar need has a free agent demanding nearly half as much money. Signing Graham will leave the Ravens more flexibility in free agency, allowing them to make one or two minor signings while still making a notable addition. More, as I have written about before, there are exciting prospects at both positions in this year’s NFL Draft. Baltimore could heavily address the WR corps there, while drafting one of the mid-round tight ends as an heir to Jimmy Graham.
Simply put, Jimmy Graham offers Baltimore the flexibility they need to address an offense that, at this point, resembles a block of swiss cheese. Though Jarvis Landry may better resemble the “splash” signing that Steve Bisciotti hinted at, one player will not fix a multitude of problems. The Ravens must be careful not to act rashly. Graham is a reliable, cheaper option who, especially in Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, should shine.
What a week it’s been! Steve Bisciotti held the state of the Ravens, the Super Bowl overdelivered, the Orioles… re-signed Craig Gentry?…. and the Wizards excel despite losing their best player! We have it all covered on this week’s episode.
Jason and Jerry go in-depth on Bisciotti’s attempt to frame the beleaguered narrative surrounding the Ravens and touch on the Orioles before our old friend Tony Massenburg stops by to weigh in on the drama in D.C. with John Wall and the Wiz!
Plus, we have a bonus guest in honor of Ray Lewis’s induction into the Hall of Fame — former Ravens’ Super Bowl-winning coach, Brian Billick! Jason caught up with Coach on radio row, and gives us 5 good minutes on Ray, the current state of the NFL, fan attendance, and more!
And as always we have Adam’s (attempted) homework assignment, Jason’s Married Guy rant with stories from Super Bowl week in Minnesota, as well as a much-needed intervention with Jerry about his privileged parking habits. Check it out!
So, that’s a wrap on the NFL season. I’m sure you all watched the game so there is really no point in me discussing it. I won a very small amount of money so I guess it turned out the way I wanted it to. Blah Blah Blah. Eagles won…Patriots lost….cool. Justin Timberlake did the halftime show and Pink sang the National Anthem. Tony Dungy and whole bunch of Eagles gave all the glory for their hard work and perseverance to an entity that had nothing to do with any of it. Philly fans set some shit on fire and broke into Macy’s. Gronk got naked and chugged light beer after the game. Darrell Green fittingly delivered the Lombardi Trophy to the Eagles? I was too drunk to remember any of the commercials. People who get excited for commercials during the Super Bowl are solely responsible for poor people not being able to afford a good steak. I would know. I can’t afford a good steak. Nick Foles has a nickname that every man is envious of. He now has a big ring and a big thing. I’d prefer the nickname to a Super Bowl ring any day of the week. Except Sunday, because that is the Lord’s day and walking into church with his nickname is slightly disrespectful. No one has a bigger one than Jesus. They call me BSF. Big Stink Fink. While I’m slightly proud of it, I’d still prefer Nick’s nickname. But, I’m sure my ex girlfriends and random ladies of the night would do interviews with the New York Times refuting any truth to that. My current girlfriend would lie and say it’s true just because that’s the protocol. She’s a champ. Not a Super Bowl type champ but more of the type of champ that is really good at settling with and praising mediocrity. The reverse touchdown pass to MVP, BDN was an enjoyable play to watch. Tom Brady not catching the pass intended for him was more enjoyable. Failure is more human than success and if anyone represents the average human struggle, it’s Tom Brady. You have to wonder if the absence of Alex Guerrero (Tom Brady’s body Guru) had a lot to do with Tom not catching that pass. Furthermore, you have to wonder if Malcolm Butler not playing had something to do with Tom Brady not catching that pass, which, in turn is because Alex Guerrero wasn’t allowed around the team. Even furthermore than that, you have to wonder if Malcolm Butler not playing, Tom Brady not catching that pass and all of the Patriots’ coaches leaving to be head coaches of other teams, therefore not being focused for the game, resulting in a loss, had something to do with Alex Guerrero not being around the team. And if you really want to dig deep you have to wonder if God was mad because he is friends with Guerrero and Butler therefore gave Nick Foles a big thing and allowed the Eagles to win their first Super Bowl. I’m not saying that any of this is for sure, but you just can’t help but wonder. And there you have my Super Bowl recap. But I’m sure you all already thought of all of this because, just like everyone in the World besides butt hurt anthem truthers, you watched the game too.
Continue Reading …
On Friday afternoon, Steve Bisciotti hosted the long-awaited ‘State of the Ravens’ press conference, nearly a month after the season’s end on New Year’s Eve. Since the franchise’s crushing loss to Cincinnati, Bisciotti has received criticism on two subjects: for delaying the conference in the first place, and for electing to hold the meeting on his own for the first time in years. However, by 1:30 PM that afternoon, Bisciotti was poised and clear in his opinions about the direction of the Baltimore Ravens. Media members fired questions on a variety of subjects, from fan experience, to Joe Flacco’s future, to the upcoming NFL Draft. Bisciotti gave fair, rather predictable answers on each front, but dropped a bomb when addressing the status of the Ravens’ staff. After acknowledging that “it was a thought” to fire John Harbaugh, Bisciotti announced that Ozzie Newsome will be stepping down from the general manager position after the 2018 season.
After the Ravens’ second consecutive season in which a last-second collapse cost the team a playoff spot, many fans demanded sweeping change. Well, while ‘sweeping’ certainly isn’t the right word – Bisciotti stressed that continuity was still central to his vision – a regime change of sorts is on the horizon. Eric DeCosta, a member of Ozzie Newsome’s staff since the team’s conception in 1996, has always been considered the surefire replacement once Newsome decided to call it a career. Still, the nature of this shift is notable, as it will not signal Ozzie’s retirement, but rather a rearrangement of the scouting department. In 2019, Newsome will assume a role as “the highest paid scout in America”. Of course, the change is not immediate, but perhaps this minor turnover will reap major benefits, as fresh eyes may bring an exciting brand of football back to M&T Bank Stadium.
We have yet to see what Eric DeCosta’s personal plan is for the Ravens squad moving forward, and his influence will not be fully uncovered for a few years. However, one can speculate on the potential changes he could make early in his new role. The first is easily the most crucial: the release of Joe Flacco. I have written on this prospect before, albeit under the impression that Ozzie would hold the reigns for the foreseeable future. Cutting Joe Flacco after the 2018 season will save them $20 million, and considering that I believed it to be inevitable with Newsome at the helm, the emergence of DeCosta in 2019 will only increase its likelihood. To that point, as the Ravens scout the mid-round quarterbacks available in this year’s draft, could Ozzie Newsome permit DeCosta a selection of his choice this year? After all, the players taken in April’s draft will be part of the foundation Eric DeCosta inherits. That’s just a thought, though, and I expect that the draft will unfold with little adjustment.
Where the biggest source of hope lies is in the Ravens’ primary focus for this offseason, and likely those in the years to come: the search for offensive playmakers. Steve Bisciotti referred to the first-half offense as “ugly,” and later stressed the importance of hitting on offensive players at skill positions. It appears increasingly likely that Baltimore will take a pass-catcher early in the 2018 Draft, making the decision paramount for the team’s improvement. As we already know, however, Ozzie Newsome’s Achilles heel has been drafting wideouts. Perhaps Eric DeCosta will be able to provide the remedy. The Ravens won’t find out for at least a year, but they had better hope so.
Eric DeCosta has been Ozzie Newsome’s understudy since the franchise’s birth. Therefore, in all likelihood, little will change in terms of the Ravens’ identity. DeCosta should provide a fresh mind leading the scouting department, which will be beneficial, but as Steve Bisciotti stated on Friday afternoon, the change was made simply because “it was time.”
There are few sports legends in the history of Baltimore that had as much of a presence as our guest this week, Ray Lewis!!
While Ray gets ready to head into the Hall of Fame this weekend, we are joined by the man himself for an exclusive interview for Baltimoreans.
We also have plenty of notes and frustrations from Fan Fest, and preview the big game on Sunday!
And as always we have our homework with Adam where we plan a MiLB Road Trip for the ages, a legendary Married Guy Rant with Jason, and much more!