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Various improvements needed from these six Orioles

The Orioles will seek outside help to avoid another last-place finish, but they also hope that improvement comes from within, that various shortcomings have a short shelf live. Here are a few that come to mind. I’ll update the list as the offseason rolls along: Kevin Gausman needs two good halves In the same season. It’s an important qualifier. Gausman flashes the ace material after

This, that and the other

Four teams have managerial vacancies and none of them are expected to interview Orioles bench coach John Russell. Lots of names are surfacing as candidates for jobs with the Red Sox, Tigers, Mets and Phillies. Alex Cora is a popular one. It seems like only a matter of time before he gets an opportunity. Meanwhile, Russell never seems to be given consideration despite annual endorsements

Still waiting on decision regarding Orioles coaching staff

The Orioles apparently haven’t made a final decision on their coaching staff for next season. There’s been no confirmation on returns or changes. The situation needs to be resolved soon with contracts expiring at the end of the month. Then again, the Orioles have been known to move slowly on such matters. No one claims that Maryland is all about crab cakes, football and quick

Because You Asked - “The Cradle of Life”

I’m opening the offseason mailbag and sorting the questions according to how often they’ve been repeated to me. “A lot” goes in the pile to my left. “A heck of a lot” goes to my right. I can’t get to all of them this morning, but it’s a long offseason. There will be other days and more sequels. I’m running out of titles. All nominations

Questions regarding Beckham, Wright, Sisco and Castro

A team that loses 19 of its final 23 games to finish in last place, and has 10 potential free agents and a handful of stars entering the final year of their contracts, is bound to be faced with plenty of questions. They come in all shapes and sizes. The questions and the players. Let’s tackle a few of them this morning. The questions, not

Information on spring training report dates and home games

The Orioles have announced their spring training report dates and released the home portion of their Grapefruit League schedule. Pitchers and catchers must report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota by Feb. 13, though they routinely arrive earlier. The full-squad report date is set for Feb. 18. Ten different teams will provide the opposition on the 16-game home schedule, beginning with the Rays

Santander and early talk about the bench

If the Orioles want to provide more rest for some of their veteran players next season, they could use better options on the bench. If they intend to keep Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander, it’s obviously going to influence the composition of their bench. It shouldn’t be hard to follow along. Santander must spend the first 44 days of the season on the active roster

What’s needed from Harvey, Sedlock, Akin and Lee

We can spend countless hours in the offseason studying the list of free agent pitchers who are realistic targets for the Orioles and potential upgrades available in trades, but never wander too far from home. You know how this club loves to stay in-house. The Orioles can’t rely on the organization’s arms to solve all of their pitching problems. Rolling the same dice over and

Notes on Schoop, arbitation projections, Turner and Wieters

More recognition has come to Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop. He can’t avoid it. A breakthrough season tends to attract the attention. Schoop learned yesterday that he’s the Orioles’ nominee for the 2017 Hank Aaron Award, presented to the top offensive performer in each league. The award was established in 1999. The Red Sox’s David Ortiz and Cubs’ Kris Bryant won it last year. Schoop

Talking about Tillman

If I decide to rank the frequency of certain questions directed at me, especially in radio interviews, anything pertaining to Chris Tillman is bound to be near the top of the list. What happened to Tillman? What was wrong with Tillman? I can offer theories and repeat how Tillman kept insisting that the condition of his right shoulder wasn’t an issue. He was fine physically.

Taking the rotation for another spin

While waiting to find out which playoff games are airing on Animal Planet and Cartoon Network ... We can spend the bulk of the winter talking about the Orioles rotation and how they can find upgrades without breaking the bank or trading away every prospect in the farm system. Spoiler alert: There are no easy answers. They really could use a proven ace who doesn’t

Talking about defense, RISP, averages vs. lefties and more

Manager Buck Showalter has expressed concern over the Orioles’ defensive decline and it will be addressed in the offseason and spring training. I’m not sure how the roster can be adjusted with so many positions appearing to be set. Adam Jones has graded poorly in center field if you peruse the defensive metrics - his ultimate zone rating (UZR) the past two seasons is -10.1

Flaherty on free agency: “I have a lot of loyalty to this team”

If anyone needs further proof that time passes quickly, consider that Orioles utility infielder Ryan Flaherty is entering free agency. The same Ryan Flaherty who joined the Orioles as a Rule 5 pick at the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas. One month after they hired Dan Duquette as executive vice president of baseball operations. The Orioles didn’t make a big splash at the meetings. They

Duquette on “stand-up guys” Hardy and Tillman

As Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette met with the beat crew Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field, a variety of questions fielded inside the Rays public relations office in the back of the press box, he broke away from a particular topic to pay tribute to two pending free agents. Two players who have been instrumental in the franchise’s climb from 14 consecutive losing seasons

Davis wants entire coaching staff to return in 2018

Coaching vacancies in baseball are opening up at a rapid pace, with a handful of teams already making changes before their seasons are cold. According to various reports, the Cardinals need a pitching coach, the Royals need a pitching coach and bench coach, the Phillies need a manager who’s likely to make wholesale changes to the staff, the Mets need a manager and pitching coach

O’Day to receive Bob Feller Act of Valor Award

Orioles reliever Darren O’Day has been selected as one of the six recipients of the 2017 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award. O’Day is joined by Tom Seaver, Chief Petty Officer Edmundo Brantes, Training Support Center Great Lakes, Unmanned Patrol Squadron ONE NINE (VUP-19) and Staff Sergeant Adam Plambeck. The award is given each year to a player who reflects the values, integrity and dedication

Clearing payroll for pitching and more on Bancells’ retirement

The Orioles will head into the offseason with seven confirmed free agents, two players with 2018 team options in their contracts that likely will be turned into buyouts and a catcher who holds a player option. There’s a significant amount of payroll that can be shed while the Orioles attempt to reload, as executive vice president Dan Duqeutte termed it before the final game. “We’re

What went wrong in 2017

TAMPA - Let the offseason begin. There will be a quiet period for the Orioles while the playoffs unfold. Teams are discouraged from making any major announcements or moves. And yes, I just teed up a few of you jokesters. You’re welcome. Today is a time for reflection unless the images are too disturbing. Images of the No. 1 starter having a sore shoulder, losing

Orioles finish 2017 in last place after 6-0 loss

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles will close out the 2017 season with 19 losses in their last 23 games. They won’t avoid finishing in last place. They must regroup before they can reload. They could have used a reset button. Kevin Gausman is able to leave on a high note, holding the Rays to one run today over seven innings, but the offensive deficiencies

Duquette: “In the AL East you reload” (O’s lose 6-0)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - As the Orioles attempt today to win for only the fifth time in 23 games, executive vice president Dan Duquette again made it clear that he isn’t going to tear down the club. Top veterans won’t be shopped. The playoffs remain the primary goal in 2018. “You know, this is the big leagues,” he said. “I don’t know who rebuilds in

Chris Davis on his “extremely frustrating” season

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Chris Davis wasn’t in today’s lineup until putting in the request with manager Buck Showalter. He’s back at first base to close out a season that he termed “inexcusable.” Davis asked to meet with the Orioles beat writers at Tropicana Field, joking that he wanted to let his hair down and “maybe get a little emotional.” But he turned serious as

Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells retiring

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette stressed again today that the club will “reload” over the winter and avoid a total rebuild after finishing below .500 for the first time since 2011. Duquette said the rotation must be rebuilt and he’ll search for a left-handed starter, which seemed to indicate that the Orioles wouldn’t pick up Wade Miley’s $12 million option.

Orioles and Rays lineups (updated)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Chris Davis is in the lineup against Rays left-hander Blake Snell after all. The Orioles initially had him on the bench as they conclude their season at Tropicana Field. The first lineup posted had Trey Mancini playing first base and Joey Rickard in left. The revised version has Mancini in left and Rickard playing right field. Anthony Santander, originally slated to

The season officially ends today

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - We’re reached Game No. 162 in a season that offered such promise in May and a glimmer of hope in August, but otherwise disappointed to the highest degree. It could result in the lowest finish. No playoffs in another odd year. A losing record for the first time since 2011. A clear winter agenda for anyone who bothered to pay the

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