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A look at one potential starting five for the Orioles

We know the Orioles will need better starting pitching to contend for the playoffs in 2014. Their starting pitcher ERA was 4.42 when they made the playoffs in 2012 and slipped to 4.57 last year which ranked 12th in the American League. We know the starters need to go deeper in games, but the O's starters actually pitched about the same number of innings the

Once again, Orioles have a decent list of pitching prospects

Stop me if you have heard this one before: In recent years the Orioles have been compiling a decent list of pitching prospects. Since young pitching is very coveted in the sport, the Orioles are simply trying to do what everyone is doing and develop young pitchers to help their major league roster. But most O's fans can tell you how difficult that job can

If not Balfour, what about Fernando Rodney as O's closer?

At one time, the Orioles were looking for a closer and it seemed to be a buyer's market. But now that is not the case, and after the failed Grant Balfour signing, it's getting late in the process. Following up on yesterday's blog when I expressed concern about Tommy Hunter in the closer's role considering his numbers against left-handed hitters, Fernando Rodney looks like the

Is Tommy Hunter ready to be the Orioles' closer?

How would you feel if the Orioles made Tommy Hunter their closer for the 2014 season? Many fans called for Hunter to get a chance last season when Jim Johnson struggled. It didn't happen then, but it might now. The O's were seeking a closer from outside the organization, but as you may have heard, that hasn't exactly worked out to this point. In terms

The move to the mound is looking good for Mychal Givens (plus remembering Paul Blair)

When the Orioles drafted Mychal Givens in the second round of the 2009 draft out of a Tampa, Fla., high school, they envisioned developing an athletic shortstop with a strong arm who would develop some pop in his bat. But when Givens struggled to hit much over his first three pro seasons, the Orioles converted him to the mound in 2013. Givens had pitched some

Taking a peek under the players' Christmas trees

Now that Christmas Day has come and gone, I wonder if some Orioles players found these gifts under their trees: * Nick Markakis - His old pop back. No, he won't hit many homers, but the guy used to fall out of bed and hit doubles. If that returns in 2014 - and we should not forget Markakis had a real solid 2012 season -

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, Birdland

Here's wishing every Orioles fan everywhere a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year. Just a short entry here today to pass along those wishes and I hope this is your best Christmas ever. For those of us that are so passionate about baseball, today is a rare day, rare in that baseball takes a back seat to Christmas and

At this point, O's offseason has turned into one big maybe

With tomorrow approaching, some Orioles fans must feel like a kid that anticipated nice presents, but never got that Red Ryder BB gun. If you've never seen a Christmas Story you won't get that one, sorry. But I'm pretty sure the word disappointing comes to mind for fans with this offseason so far. Things can always change and get better, but right now, not so

Can Matt Wieters get his bat going again in 2014?

While we continue to ponder whether the Orioles can sign catcher Matt Wieters to a long-term contract, or failing that, if they will trade him, here is another Wieters question. Can he get his bat back to 2011 levels in 2014? In 2011, Wieters hit .262 with 22 homers, 68 RBIs and had a .450 slugging percentage with a .778 OPS. In 2012 he hit

Getting player development and scouting on the same page

If any organization wants lasting success and a good farm system, it is probably essential that its player development and scouting departments are on the same page. A few years ago, there were those that felt that was not true in Baltimore and that internal differences hurt the overall effort. Orioles director of player development Brian Graham, addressing the current situation with the organization, feels

A conversation with new O's pitching coach Dave Wallace

When the Orioles hired Dave Wallace as their pitching coach on Oct. 29, they got a man with a lot of experience, a World Series ring and a reputation for working well with with young pitchers. During the Winter Meetings last week in Florida, I had a chance to catch up with Wallace for a video interview. Wallace has served as pitching for four teams

Catching up with the author of Baseball America's top O's prospects list

Every year, right after the Baseball America Orioles top 10 prospects lists comes out, I rush to the phone to interview the writer of the list to get some insights on those players. This year I had to interview myself. At least I didn't have any trouble reaching the guy. It was exciting to be asked by Baseball America to do the O's list this

ESPN injury expert talks about recent Machado interview

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado's recovery from Oct. 14 knee surgery is now well under way and it seems to be going quite well. Stephania Bell, ESPN's injury expert and senior writer for ESPN.com, went to Miami to interview Machado just before Thanksgiving. She saw a player determined to come back strong. "I thought he was doing very well and his range of motion was

Takes on Balfour, Roberts and Surhoff

So those Grant Balfour negotiations took a little while, huh? Wow, that was protracted. But in the end, I see it as a win for the Orioles. They now have a closer locked up for the next two years and Jim Johnson would have been a free agent after 2014. At the projected salary for Johnson in 2014, the Orioles did save some money that

A look Baseball America's top 10 Orioles prospects list (Surhoff note)

Baseball America's top 10 Orioles prospects list has just been released. I was honored to be asked to compile the list for Baseball America this year. Below is the top 10 with a quick comment on each player. 1. Pitcher Dylan Bundy: Even after the Tommy John surgery, he remains No. 1, but it was pretty close. Some forget how good he was in 2012

Comparing Orioles' top 10 prospects list to others in AL East

Later this morning Baseball America will release its new list of the Orioles' top 10 prospects. The Orioles farm system is considered pretty top heavy, with some high-end prospects holding the top spots, but not a lot of depth. Still, in an American League East where only one team - and that is Boston - has a top-notch farm system right now, the Orioles are

What is the future at shortstop in Baltimore?

So who will be playing at shortstop for the Orioles in 2015? Well, we have to get through next year first and J.J. Hardy, who has won two straight Gold Gloves, will be there come April. But what about the future of the position in Baltimore? Will Hardy be there after next season? If not him, does Manny Machado then move to short? During the

Some notes and some quotes

Taking a look at some random Orioles notes. These are courtesy of the club's public relations staff from the club's 2013 season summary: * The Orioles drew 2,357,101 fans in 2013, marking the first time since 2005 (2,624,740) the Birds drew over 2.3 million fans. * Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy were two of four players in the majors to win Gold Gloves and Silver

Is Henry Urrutia a candidate for O's left field job?

So who will be in left field for the Orioles next year? Is there a chance it could be Henry Urrutia? Before the first 20 comments start screaming this means the O's won't add an outfielder, it doesn't mean that at all. I am writing this blog speculating and wondering about Urrutia and not because anyone with the organization is handing him that job. That

The time has come for O's to win one in free agency

The Orioles may have reached the point in the offseason where they have to overpay to get what they want. They seem to want Grant Balfour to be their closer, and it looks like they are going to have to outbid other clubs to get him. The time has come for the Orioles to do just that. The Orioles need help with their starting pitching.

Steve and Roch wrap up Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Another Winter Meetings week has come and gone. We headed south. We blogged. We tweeted. We waited for big news that never came. That doesn't mean it never will. We'll see on that one. The fans are restless and some of the reporters may be too. Over the next few days and maybe weeks, we'll begin to find out if

O's director of player development Brian Graham on getting the Bender Award

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles director of player development Brian Graham will get a nice honor tonight at the Winter Meetings. Graham will be receiving the sixth annual Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award, presented to an individual with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development. Graham just completed his sixth season with the Orioles, his first in his current role and his 32nd

Jim Callis talks about the Orioles' picks in the Rule 5 draft

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - In taking Michael Almanzar today in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles got a player that was once a top international signing by the Boston Red Sox. Jim Callis of MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com, during a video interview after the draft, pointed out that Almanzar was signed to a $1.5 million dollar deal by Boston in

Dan Duquette talks about Michael Almanzar and Julio Borbon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles selected two players today in the Rule 5 draft, adding corner infielder Michael Almanzar from Boston with the 16th pick in the major league phase and taking outfielder Julio Borbon from the Cubs in the Triple-A phase. Almanzar must stay on the Orioles' 25-man roster all year or be offered back to the Red Sox for half the

A look at Thursday's Rule 5 draft

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Major League Baseball's Rule 5 draft will be held Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at the Winter Meetings and the Orioles will have the 16th pick. Any player selected in this draft must remain on the selecting team's 25-man roster for the entire 2014 season or be offered back to his original club. This is the draft where the Orioles

Duquette on possible Hardy extension talks, the Rule 5 draft and more (O's offers report and update)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - During his briefing with reporters this afternoon and again later during a one-on-one video interview with MASNsports.com, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said today the club is hopeful of pursuing a contract extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy, who can be a free agent after the 2014 season. Duquette said no talks have taken place yet, but it could happen

Jim Callis on the Orioles' farm system

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - If you want to talk about prospects and a club's minor league system, who better to seek out than Jim Callis? During our now annual Winter Meetings video interview, Jim took some time to talk about the O's organization. By the way after many years with Baseball America, you can now catch Callis' reports and analysis at MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com.

Revisiting Bartolo Colon

LAKE BUEVA VISTA, Fla. - Will the Orioles pursuit of starting pitching lead them back toward Bartolo Colon? At times during this offseason, they have been linked with the Oakland pitcher, who went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA last year. He had a WHIP of 1.166 and walked just 1.4 batters per nine innings. He was second in the American League in wins and ERA.

Buck on Gausman and AL East (plus Duquette video)

LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - At some point late next March, the Orioles will have a decision to make on Kevin Gausman, one of their top young pitching prospects. Will he begin the season pitching as part of the Orioles roster, or does he need to begin the year at Triple-A for more minor league seasoning? Mananger Buck Showalter, while confident in Gausman's ability to

Dan Duquette on the current market, Brian Roberts and dealing prospects

LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - Through most of the first two days of the Winter Meetings, we have seen much less activity throughout baseball than we saw in the week or two leading up to this gathering. Why is that the case? One theory is with the price high for free agents, teams have turned more toward trade options and more trade partners makes that

Showalter on payroll: "I without a doubt think we have plenty of budget"

LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter is aware the subject of the team's budget has been a big topic over the last few days. During a video interview today with MASNSports.com, Showalter was asked about the club's 2014 payroll. "I without doubt think we have plenty of budget," Showalter said. "I don't even think about that at all. That's not my job.

Jim Duquette's take on the Orioles so far at the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - Jim Duquette was once a key decision maker for the Orioles. Now, he analyzes what the O's and every other club in baseball does as his role as an analyst for Sirius XM radio. This morning, during a video interview, he mentioned the O's interest in free agent reliever Grant Balfour which has much discussed here today. Duquette said despite

A look at the Orioles' pursuit of Grant Balfour

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles are in the market for a closer and, as of last night, they were pursuing free agent Grant Balfour and it sounds like they are clearly making progress on that front. In an interview this morning with MASNSports.com, former Orioles executive Jim Duquette of Sirius XM Radio said the club was the front-runner last night to get Balfour,

Dan Duquette video interview

LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - In a video interview Monday night, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette addressed the activity level of the Winter Meetings today for the Orioles and others clubs. Duquette was also asked if the Orioles would consider signing a player that would cost the club its first-round draft pick and discussed his take on possibly signing a player that had previously

Working together with pitchers and pitching coaches in majors and minors

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - New Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace is going to have his hands full running the major league staff with the Orioles, but he also would be expected to have some input with the minor league pitching coaches and pitchers as well. Yesterday, Wallace said he already has talked to O's director of pitching development Rick Peterson and Triple-A Norfolk pitching

New O's pitching coach looks to tap into the young pitchers' potential

LAKE BUEVA VISTA, Fla. - If the Orioles new pitching coach, Dave Wallace and new bullpen coach Dom Chiti can get more out of some of the club's young pitchers in 2014, they will have proven to be great additions to the O's coaching staff. Any O's fan can recite a long list of former pitching prospects that never lived up to the hype, or

Would the Orioles part with their first-round draft pick?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Would the Orioles part with a top draft pick to sign a free agent? One industry source today said the answer is likely yes. If that is true, then the player the club has interest in is one of the six remaining players that turned down a qualifying offer. The list includes outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz, shortstop Stephen

Roland Hemond remembers his days as O's GM

LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - Former Oriole general manager Roland Hemond is here at the Winter Meetings. Hemond is now in his sixth season as special assistant to the president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was GM of the Orioles during a very interesting time, one that spanned the club's terrible start in 1988 which was followed by the 1989, "Why Not" season

Checking in with O's scouting director Gary Rajsich at the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles amateur scouting director Gary Rajsich is with the front office contingent at the Winter Meetings. He is looking to fill a few positions on his scouting staff. Chris Gale, the Orioles' area scout in the Carolinas and southern Virginia, left the organization recently to take a pro scouting position with Cleveland. Bob Szymkowski, the club's area scout covering Michigan,

Duquette on pitching and fans' reaction

When Dan Duquette talks these days, Orioles fans listen, but then they seem to voice skepticism about what he said. Right now, they are questioning the Jim Johnson trade, the payroll, the starting pitching and more. A few fans had a rather negative reaction via Twitter to one comment Duquette made last night when he said, "We've got a much stronger base to our pitching

Duquette on Winter Meetings priorities, the pitching market and more

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - After Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette met with the Baltimore reporters during a pre-Winter Meetings briefing tonight, he took a few minutes to answer a few more questions with MASNSports.com What is the top priority right now? "The Orioles are going to look to build their pitching staff. So that means we are trying to sign a starter and

Gausman in the bullpen next year? Don't think so

When the 2014 season begins, will Kevin Gausman pitch as a starter or reliever for the Orioles? If he begins the year in the major leagues, I would expect that to happen with him in the rotation. I would guess Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette feel that way too, but Duquette did not 100 percent rule out a bullpen role for Guasman when asked about

Duquette talks pitching and some fans react to that

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - When Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette talks these days Orioles fans listen, but then they seem to voice skepticism about what he said. Right now they are questioning the Jim Johnson trade, the payroll, the starting pitching and more. Several fans had a negative reaction via my Twitter account to one comment Duquette made last night when he said,

As Winter Meetings approach, some O's fans are becoming impatient

The natives are getting restless. Orioles fans are watching other teams sign players, watching 2013 Orioles sign elsewhere and not seeing their own team make what they feel are significant acquisitions. Some fans were not happy with the Jim Johnson trade. Yesterday, pitcher Scott Feldman signed with Houston and outfielder Nate McLouth with Washington. Some fans see those players leaving and feel their team is

Comparing Jones to Ellsbury, plus a take on Cano and the Yankees

It was big news earlier this week when free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury went from the Red Sox to the Yankees. He agreed to a seven-year, $153 million dollar deal with New York with a 2021 option at $16 million. That is a whopper of a deal. I think the Yankees got a heckuva player, but paid way too big a price. There is a

Dylan Bundy has begun a light tossing program

Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy recently began a light throwing program in Florida and he is ahead of schedule in his return from June surgery. In the last few days, Bundy began a light tossing program of 25 throws from about 60 feet every other day. His rehab throwing program will ramp up a bit more in January when he makes more throws at longer

Dan Duquette on Orioles' window of opportunity

Is the Orioles' window of opportunity closing after the next season or two? Shortstop J.J. Hardy will be a free agent after the 2014 season, which could also be Nick Markakis' last season in an O's uniform. Matt Wieters and Chris Davis can be free agents after the 2015 season. Those are four key Orioles starters that could be gone after the 2014 season or

Duquette on Weeks, the closer role and more, plus PTBN possibles

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was a guest on MASN's "Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" yesterday and talked about the Jim Johnson trade. He said when you look at the trade you'll have to look at other players the O's sign in the next few weeks. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted this yesterday: "Jim Johnson trade was an obvious salary dump for

More on J. Johnson and Gamboa, plus some Wieters speculation

The trade of Jim Johnson sure brought on an avalanche of reaction, much of it questioning the return the Orioles got in Jemile Weeks from Oakland. In acquiring Weeks, the Orioles got a player who didn't even play much in the majors last year and has not been able to duplicate his big league success of 2011, when he hit .303 in 97 games. It

What is your take on the Jim Johnson trade?

The early reaction to tonight's trade via my Twitter account has not been real positive, but feel free to add your two cents here as well. Those that wanted Jim Johnson gone got their wish tonight, as the Orioles traded him to the Oakland A's for infielder Jemile Weeks, which was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The Orioles also get a player to

Checking on a few items in the baseball news

See, the Orioles are busy. They even made a trade during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. OK, they didn't deal Matt Wieters, and it was not exactly a blockbuster. Will their offseason hot stove really take fire this week? This time next week we'll be in Orlando for the start of the Winter Meetings. While we wait for that fun to begin, let's look at a

Looking back on a flurry of roster moves and at some catching split stats

Taking time this morning to ponder that the Auburn player that ran back that missed field goal to beat Alabama yesterday was named Chris Davis. The baseball-playing Davis crushed baseballs while the football-playing Davis crushed the hopes of Alabama's fan base. In the last two weeks, the Orioles have added eight players to their 40-man roster with three coming from their own organization. Here is

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