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The time has come for tougher MLB sanctions for PED use

Here we go again. Major League Baseball players are making headlines and being linked to using performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs. Tuesday's story in the Miami New Times comes out and the national baseball press is again fixated on the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. This all follows by weeks the latest Hall of Fame vote announcement where no one was elected and where Roger Clemens got just

Dylan Bundy is ranked as baseball's No. 2 prospect by MLB.com

Dylan Bundy has been ranked as baseball's No. 2 prospect and Kevin Gausman was rated No. 37 by MLB.com. The top 100 was unveiled last night during a live telecast on MLB Network and Texas infielder Jurickson Profar was rated as baseball's top prospect. Bundy went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 23 starts this past season at three minor league levels and then pitched

The face of the franchise

On its "Hot Stove" morning show, MLB Network has been pondering which players or members of each major league team can be considered the club's face of the franchise. Yes, they asked the question about the Orioles and I don't even remember how the results broke down, but I'm more interested in what the readers here think. Who do you consider the face of the

Where will Nick Markakis wind up in the batting order?

He missed 58 games last season, but in the 104 in which he did play, Nick Markakis had a pretty good season with the bat. He hit .298 with 28 doubles, 13 homers and 54 RBIs in 420 at-bats, the fewest of his career. Markakis was on a pace for 83 RBIs, which would have been his most since driving in 101 in 2009. He

Once again, taking the pulse of Orioles fans

So, Orioles fans, how are you feeling about the Orioles' inactivity this offseason now? Of course, the club has made some moves, but not many were of the significant variety in adding starting players and no big free agent contracts were handed out. It has been the prevailing topic of discussion for weeks now. While we need to keep in mind that there could be

Duquette talks about changes at top of O's player development operation

The Orioles today announced a restructuring of their player development staff. Kent Qualls was officially named director of minor league operations, where he will oversee the business operations of the player development department. Brian Graham has been promoted from coordinator of minor league instruction to director of player development. As director of player personnel, John Stockstill will now also oversee international and domestic professional scouting.

Adding Jair Jurrjens is a good low-risk move by the Orioles (O's ranked 17th)

There hasn't yet been an announcement from the club, but CBSSports.com reported late last night that the Orioles have come to terms with right-handed pitcher Jair Jurrjens on a one-year major league contract that will pay him $1.5 million in guaranteed money and could earn him another $2.5 million in incentives. Signing a pitcher that is still young (he turns 27 next Tuesday), went 13-6

WBC could provide a good experience for Jonathan Schoop

It seems that many American baseball fans are not real excited about the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Fans are not happy that the competition will take some players away from major league teams in spring training. But the competition could be a real plus for Orioles top minor league prospect Jonathan Schoop. The club's No. 3 prospect, according to Baseball America, is expected to play

How will Chris Davis hold up on defense at first base?

While the Orioles insist that Chris Davis has been a solid defender at first base in the past and will be again, some O's fans have expressed concerns about a defensive dropoff at the spot if Davis turns out to be the full-time replacement for Mark Reynolds. Reynolds was certainly not smooth around the bag as last season wore on, but he made a lot

O's pitching coach Rick Adair on the rotation, mini-camp and more

As spring training approaches, the Orioles' five-man starting rotation is not set. But pitchers like Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez seem close to locks to be in the opening day starting five, and Chris Tillman may be on that list, as well. At FanFest, O's pitching coach Rick Adair addressed his rotation's current state. "There are probably three or four guys we feel

Roberts understands fans' doubts

After dealing with concussion symptoms, undergoing surgery in August to repair a torn labrum in his hip and Dec. 20 sports hernia surgery, Brian Roberts is not surprised at all that some fans doubt he can return to play regularly for the Orioles. And he's completely OK with and understanding of that. "I don't hold anything against anyone that doesn't think I can do it

As Orioles fans, we got to see No. 4 make the Orioles No. 1

Thinking back, I'm so glad that the Orioles returned to the playoffs last year because that meant Earl Weaver got to see his Orioles win again. We didn't know it then, but we know now that was his last season watching his beloved Birds. One reason we know Buck Showalter is great as a skipper is that we have Earl to compare him to. I'm

Nick Markakis praises O's fan base for record turnout at FanFest

After spending so many years with this organization and not playing on a winner, last year was special for Nick Markakis, even if he ended up last season on the disabled list as the playoffs began. "It was awesome. That is what I've been waiting a long time for and why I wanted to stay here," Markakis said. "I knew what this place could be

Jim Johnson not concerned about coming to terms with Orioles

Even though there is a bit of gap between what the Orioles submitted and what Jim Johnson's agent is seeking through arbitration, the Orioles closer said today he's not concerned at all about his 2013 contract. He figures the business side of it will get taken care of and soon. Johnson is seeking $7.1 million through arbitration and the Orioles' offer was for $5.7 million.

Matusz would prefer to start, but role still up in the air

The Orioles have indicated they are not yet certain whether Brian Matusz will pitch as a starter or a reliever this year. But if Matusz has any say in it, he made clear today what he favors. "I'm going in this spring with an opportunity to be a starter," he said. "I've been a starter my whole life until last year. I want to go

Dickerson brings plenty of experience to O's third base box

The Orioles' new third base coach has not been in that box for a while, but Bobby Dickerson, who was hired to replace DeMarlo Hale, has been in that box a lot over the years. "I've got over 1,200 games coaching third at the minor league level," Dickerson said today at FanFest. "I've coached third at the Triple-A and Double-A levels. I've been over there.

Palmer becomes emotional remembering Weaver

We've seen Jim Palmer become emotional before - for instance, this year during his legends ceremony, when he talked about Mike Flanagan. Today, the Hall of Famer kept it together pretty well when talking about Earl Weaver until very late in an interview with reporters covering FanFest. "Mike Flanagan came up to me and said, one year after (I) had pitched during a spring training

Duquette: Saunders will likely choose his 2013 team this week

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he feels free agent pitcher Joe Saunders, who started two playoff games for the Orioles last October, will be making a decision soon on which team he will pitch for this year. "Joe is not here, but he did a great job for us last year," Duquette said. "He's probably going to make a decision this week." Is

McLouth: "This is where I wanted to be"

Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth is looking forward to his second season with the team. He told reporters at FanFest today that he felt this was his best fit when he was a free agent and he had that in mind as much as the dollars when sizing up where to play in 2013. "Things were started to materialize with other teams. It just came down

Duquette and Showalter on Earl Weaver

At the beginning of their forum with Orioles season ticket holders, which kicks off FanFest each year, executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter each made comments about Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, who died this morning. "Earl obviously was a great manager," Duquette said. "I was grateful last year we got to share a lot about his career when he was with

Duquette and Showalter on Earl Weaver

At the beginning of their forum with Orioles season ticket holders, which kicks off FanFest each year, executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter each made comments about Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, who died this morning. "Earl obviously was a great manager," Duquette said. "I was grateful last year we got to share a lot about his career when he was with

Goodbye to an Orioles legend

I will never forget a weekend I spent with friends in Cooperstown, N.Y., in August 1996. We made the drive north for the Hall of Fame induction of Earl Weaver. So many memories of No. 4 come rushing to the forefront today with news that Earl died last night. He was 82. I was there not to work as a reporter, but as a fan

The Orioles debut "The BUCKle up Birds" DVD

It was not a Hollywood premiere, but there was an orange carpet outside the Maryland Science Center's IMAX Theater last night. The Orioles debuted their 2012 season highlights DVD called, "The BUCKle Up Birds: An Underdog Story." They showed the DVD in a special screening for O's players, coaches and front office and staff, along with their families, club sponsors and some invited guests. The

Dylan Bundy on offseason workouts, goals for improving and more

Even after a season where he pitched at three minor league levels, was named the Orioles' minor league Pitcher of the Year and made it to the majors before his 20th birthday, Dylan Bundy realizes he is still a work in progress. "My offspeed pitches can get better, the consistency of them. Fastball command is a huge thing. You saw in the big leagues I

Jim Johnson talks to fans in Aberdeen about the rotation, the WBC and much more

From time to time, the debate begins again. There are plenty of Orioles fans and some in the media that believe Jim Johnson, if given the chance, would be an excellent starting pitcher because he has several quality pitches. As for Johnson, he is not campaigning for a shot at the rotation. In fact, he said last night, he figures he's now likely a bullpen

Pedro Strop looks forward to pitching for Dominican Republic in WBC

The World Baseball Classic coming in March will pit some major league teammates against each other in the 16-nation tournament and that could happen for Orioles teammates Adam Jones and Pedro Strop. The 27-year-old right-hander will pitch for the Dominican Republic and he could wind up facing Jones at some point instead of watching him play center field behind him. "Something like that would be

Buck on Roberts, working with Duquette and the training camp pitching competition

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked today about Brian Roberts. He has been optimistic when talking about the veteran second baseman and his outlook for the 2013 season. He was asked after today's press conference if Roberts has had a winter free of any health concerns or issues. "That wouldn't be completely honest if I said that," Showalter said without elaborating on exactly what he

Louis Angelos: "This is about building a sustained winning and competitive team"

After today's press conference at Camden Yards, Louis Angelos of the Orioles ownership group was asked about the club making such a long commitment to Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette, with their contracts extended all the way through 2018. "Continuity is important for an organization," Angelos said. "Buck came in and he rejuvenated just about every aspect - what happens on the field, in the

Showalter and Duquette: On the job for the Birds through 2018

Now that is a contract extension. Both Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter get extensions through the 2018 season, so get used to this duo running the Orioles. By the way, Adam Jones' extension from May also runs through 2018. I sense a theme here. If Buck finishes this contract, he will have over eight seasons under his belt as Orioles manager and only Hall of

Duquette, Showalter sign extensions through 2018 (with Buck quotes added)

The Orioles announced contract extensions through the 2018 season for executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter on Wednesday evening. They will hold a 10 a.m. press conference with the duo at Camden Yards on Thursday. The pair led the Orioles to a 24-win improvement in 2012, as the team went from 69-93 to 93-69 and posted its most wins

Upward trend: Adam Jones' stats are on a three-year increase

If you look at Adam Jones' offensive stats, they have been trending upward for three years now. It makes you wonder just how good the Orioles center fielder can be and how much better he can get. When MLB Network recently picked its list of the current 10 best center fielders, guest host Bill James rated Jones fifth and analyst and former Oriole Bill Ripken

Checking on another pitching prospect: A look at right-hander Mike Wright

He is mentioned often as being one of the Orioles' top pitching prospects. After this past season, Baseball America rated right-hander Mike Wright as the club's No. 8 prospect and he ranks fourth among pitchers after Dylan Bundy (No. 1), Kevin Gausman (No. 2) and Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 5). Wright began this past year at Single-A Frederick and went 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA in

The case for the defense

So, were there any exciting sporting events over the weekend? I heard there were some. Meanwhile, back on the baseball beat, what if there was a team and only four other teams made more errors than said team last season? What if just three squads had a lower fielding percentage than said team? Could that squad be a good fielding team in 2013? It can

10 questions for O's fans

Today and this weekend, I'm asking 10 questions and looking for your answers. Feel free to provide a take on one, three, six or all 10 questions. If you want to number your answers to correspond with the question that may make it easier to follow. 1: How many games will Nolan Reimold start next season? 2: How many saves will Jim Johnson have in

Orioles promote James Keller to the position of national pitching crosschecker

The Orioles have promoted scout James Keller to the position of national pitching crosschecker, O's scouting director Gary Rajsich said tonight. Keller actually began working more closely with scouting pitchers before last season's draft. That was a draft where the Orioles took pitchers in the first two rounds, drafted eight in the first 12 rounds and selected 12 pitchers in the first 17 rounds. "That

Can the Orioles bullpen be 2012 good again?

There is a baseball theory out there, and plenty of evidence behind it, that says relief pitchers and entire bullpens for that matter, are volatile and likely to see big swings in performance from year to year. There sure seem to be fewer relief pitchers than starters who can be counted on to produce top stats every season. Some believe closers are overrated and that

Random Hall of Fame rumblings

Today a random rumblings, Hall of Fame edition. As per usual, after reading this please leave plenty of your own opinions and comments: * The so-called steroid era is a mass of confusion to me. It is undefined, subjective and talk of it creates many more questions that actual answers. It creates a wealth of strong opinion and spirited debate, which is interesting, but very

How to determine a player's trade value

Here is an interesting question to discuss and debate as we look out the window on these cold winter mornings and count the days until spring arrives: What is the value of a player? When a few people asked me via Twitter yesterday if the Orioles might include Brian Matusz in a potential trade for the Nationals' Michael Morse, it made me wonder about Matusz's

A look at another pitching prospect: Pinales shows early promise and potential

In some ways, left-hander Elias Pinales is just like a lot of young pitching prospects over the years from the Dominican Republic. He is tall and lean, and throws hard. He is a decent prospect, but has a lot of developing to do to try and work his way up through the Orioles farm system. Pinales, from Bajo de Haini, turned 20 in November. The

The great Orioles winter debate

It is not a surprise to me. In fact, I predicted early in the offseason that the theme this winter would be how the Orioles were fortunate to win last year and how it can't happen again. The theory goes that last year everything broke right. The Orioles went 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra-inning games. What good fortune. But the Orioles outscored

What is your take on getting baseball autographs?

So what is your take on FanFest and what is your take on getting baseball autographs? With Friday's announcement of the lineups for autographs for FanFest, it's a good time to revisit these topics. Feel free to share some stories and opinions here this weekend. For those FanFest veterans, what do you like most about the day? What advice would you give fans that are

The Orioles shouldn't have any untouchables, however ...

When a member of the Miami Marlins front office said the club would listen to trade offers for Giancarlo Stanton, it set off a mild firestorm around baseball. To me, all it meant was the Marlins' brass was doing its job. I am not a believer in the concept that certain players are "untouchable" meaning they are 100 percent unavailable via a trade. How can

Miguel Gonzalez could be the X factor on the pitching staff

In this space yesterday, I labeled Nolan Reimold an X factor for the Orioles' offense come April. If Reimold can stay healthy, he could be huge for the offense next season. Who is the X factor on the pitching staff? I think Miguel Gonzalez is a candidate for that. He was so good and so poised last year that it could be hard for him

A healthy Nolan Reimold could be a real X factor for Orioles offense

The assumption seems to be that the Orioles offense needs to get better and needs a key addition before the start of the 2013 season. This after the club scored just 15 runs in six postseason games and finished ninth in the American League in runs scored last year, 10th in batting average and 11th in on-base percentage. But while those numbers cover the entire

What is the next move for the Orioles?

Happy new year, everyone. I hope 2013 is a wonderful year that makes you happy and finds you healthy. Let's hope it can be as exciting on the field for the Orioles as last year was. So as a new year begins, we revisit an older, lingering question. What is the next move for the Orioles? Dan Duquette has stated that he wants to add

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