The Orioles are determined to make some sort of a move each day until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
They may slow down on Thanksgiving, probably from the tryptophan in the turkey. Otherwise ...
With Nick Hundley becoming a free agent over the weekend, the Orioles are left with four catchers on their 40-man roster. I’m including Matt Wieters, who will come off the 60-day disabled list to join Caleb Joseph, Steve Clevenger and Michael Ohlman.
Ohlman batted .236/.310/.318 in 113 games with Double-A Bowie after winning the Carolina League batting title in 2013 with a .313 average. After totaling 13 home runs and 53 RBIs at Single-A Frederick last year, Ohlman produced only two homers and 33 RBIs with the Baysox. However, the Orioles still like his potential and are encouraged by his production in the Arizona Fall League.
Ohlman played in last night’s Fall Stars Game in Scottsdale, going 1-for-2 and also committing a throwing error during Parker Bridwell’s scoreless fifth inning, after batting .320/.379/.360 in his first eight games for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
(Bridwell allowed a hit and walked a batter in his only inning, but he also struck out the side.)
With the Orioles open to re-signing Hundley, I wonder how it would impact Joseph and Clevenger. It’s unlikely that the Orioles would carry three catchers on opening day, though Joseph and Clevenger can play other positions.
Hundley will find a job in the majors. He’s not going to start out at Triple-A.
Norfolk’s Brian Ward is a career .237 hitter with 15 home runs in six minor league seasons, but the Orioles believe that he’s ready defensively to play in the majors. Does he also wind up on the 40-man roster to protect him in the Rule 5 draft?
Remember when the Orioles couldn’t find anyone besides Wieters who truly deserved to be on it?
If a team needs a catcher, it probably should give executive vice president Dan Duquette a call.
I wonder if the Orioles remain interested in Hundley partially because of Chris Tillman’s 2.78 ERA in 18 starts with him behind the plate? Tillman registered a 5.29 ERA in seven starts with Joseph catching, which may have nothing to do with his battery-mate.
Hundley threw out only five of 27 runners attempting to steal after going 0-for-9 with the Padres. Tillman has allowed only two stolen bases in the last two seasons, so it made sense to pair Joseph with other starters.
Wei-Yin Chen had a 3.05 ERA in 14 starts with Joseph and a 3.83 ERA in eight starts with Hundley. Bud Norris had a 3.19 ERA in 17 starts with Joseph and a 4.78 ERA in five starts with Hundley. Miguel Gonzalez had a 2.74 ERA in 16 starts with Joseph and a 2.55 ERA in three starts with Hundley. Kevin Gausman had a 3.62 ERA in 15 starts with Joseph and a 2.30 ERA in four starts with Hundley. Ubaldo Jimenez had a 3.38 ERA in eight starts with Joseph and a 4.85 ERA in nine starts with Hundley.
The Orioles and Nick Markakis should stay paired up despite his name now appearing among the list of baseball’s free agents. The two sides have been talking for weeks - I’ve heard that the framework involves a four-year deal - and I’d expect an agreement at some point in the not-too-distant future.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with agent Jamie Murphy over the summer while writing a feature on Markakis for Orioles Magazine.
“I think he’s probably one of the most overlooked guys in baseball,” Murphy said. “I don’t think people put enough value on what it means to have a player who’s in the lineup every single day. You have a lot of guys who will sit against tough left-handers, will sit against tough pitchers, but Nick never asks out of a game or asks not to play against a tough pitcher. He’s the opposite. He wants to play against them, and that makes it a much easier team to manage.”
Markakis and his family reside in Monkton and have no interest in relocating. Murphy called him a few winters ago following another major snow storm in the area, expecting his client to be miserable.
“I asked if he wished he were in Florida and he said, ‘Are you kidding me? I love it here. I’ve got my snow plow out and I’m plowing other driveways and getting people out who are stuck,’ ” Murphy recalled.
“As much money as has, he lives a very normal down-to-earth lifestyle in Monkton. They let him do that. The neighbors don’t ask anything more of him than if he worked in an office somewhere. They can be themselves and that’s why I don’t imagine them leaving the area.
“He’s making Monkton his home and I don’t think that changes if he’s playing for another team next year. He got a real affection for the area and the people. I think he was fortunate to be drafted by an organization where he fit so well in the community. Nick’s low-key and I think Baltimore and the area accept that of him. They don’t expect him to be any different than what he is and he responds well to that. I don’t see him ever leaving the area.”