Are the Orioles looking at an active winter?

In a preview of the Orioles offseason, yesterday started a write-up on the club this way: “With some key position players hitting free agency and a still-unsettled rotation, the Orioles are looking at another busy offseason.”

Is that really true?

With six starters under contract for 2017 and a solid bullpen already on hand, this could be a quiet winter on the pitching front. Plus, the club is set with at least five of the eight spots on the diamond. They could retain Mark Trumbo and/or Matt Wieters. Even if they lose one or both, some or all of their replacements could potentially come in house.

matt-wieters-orange-bat.jpgSo will it really be that busy of a winter for the Orioles? Check out the story here and leave a comment below on this topic.

The World Series begins: After 103 wins and postseason series victories over the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs are favored to win the 2016 World Series. If they do so, it will be their first World Series championship since 1908.

That was heading into Game 1 last night. But Cleveland beat the favored Cubs 6-0 in Game 1. Catcher Roberto Perez homered twice with four RBIs while Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen teamed on a seven-hitter with 15 strikeouts. It was Cleveland’s first World Series win since Game 6 in 1997, making the Tribe 8-1 this postseason.

The online sportsbook Bovada lists these odds for players to be named the World Series MVP:

Kris Bryant (CHC) - 6/1
Jon Lester (CHC) - 8/1
Andrew Miller (CLE) - 9/1
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) - 9/1
Jake Arrieta (CHC) - 12/1
Javier Baez (CHC) - 12/1
Dexter Fowler (CHC) - 12/1
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) - 15/1
Corey Kluber (CLE) - 15/1
Addison Russell (CHC) - 16/1
Aroldis Chapman (CHC) - 20/1
Jason Kipnis (CLE) - 20/1
Ben Zobrist (CHC) - 20/1
Cody Allen (CLE) - 25/1
Wilson Contreras (CHC) - 25/1
John Lackey (CHC) - 25/1
Francisco Lindor (CLE) - 25/1
Mike Napoli (CLE) - 25/1
Carlos Santana (CLE) - 25/1
Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE) - 30/1
Trevor Bauer (CLE) - 33/1
Tyler Naquin (CLE) - 40/1
Roberto Perez (CLE) - 45/1
Jason Heyward (CHC) - 50/1
Jose Ramirez (CLE) - 55/1
Josh Tomlin (CLE) - 55/1
Ryan Merritt (CLE) - 75/1

Minor league injury notes: He has been ranked by Baseball America among the Orioles’ top 30 prospects the last two years. He was No. 9 after the 2014 season and No. 25 after 2015. But outfielder Mike Yastrzemski could fall out of the rankings this winter.

Yastrzemski, who turned 26 in August, began the 2016 season back at Double-A Bowie. In mid-May, he moved up to Triple-A for the first time. In 94 games with Norfolk, he hit .221/.312/.369 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.

Those were modest stats for the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. But what we didn’t know during the year was that Yastrzemski was hampered by an injury that must have impacted his performance. A few weeks after the season, he underwent sports hernia and groin surgery.

Orioles director of player development Brian Graham said looking back now, no doubt Yastrzemski played through some pain, although no one is making any excuses here.

“I think Yaz was inconsistent, but he still shows you signs of being a really good player. He just needs to put consistent at-bats together and he needs to use the whole field to hit in. He needs to bunt and cut down on his strikeouts,” Graham said.

Playing through an injury is just the latest example of the drive and intensity - what Buck Showalter calls “want to” - Yastrzemski plays with. In 2017, he’ll try to get back to putting up some of the numbers he did earlier in his career and get back on a track toward the major leagues.

I mentioned this in Monday’s entry, but for those that may have missed it, pitcher Parker Bridwell has replaced pitcher Jesus Liranzo in the Arizona Fall League. He joins the roster of the Peoria team that is 10-1-2, easily the best record in the AFL.

Liranzo pitched just once in the AFL before dealing with a back strain that was seen as minor. The 21-year-old Dominican right-hander started the 2016 season with Single-A Delmarva and then moved to Bowie, skipping Single-A Frederick. Liranzo, whose fastball can touch 96 and 97 mph, went 1-1 with a 1.87 ERA for the two teams over 27 games. In 53 innings, he allowed just 20 hits with 27 walks and 66 strikeouts.

“It’s nothing serious,” Graham said of Liranzo’s back ailment. “He is 100 percent healthy now. It’s been a long year for Liranzo, longer than he has ever pitched. He’s in Florida right now for a couple of days. He has checked out perfectly fine with our doctors and trainers.

“And it will be good for Bridwell to get in a few innings. He was a taxi squad player (for the Orioles) during (September) instructional league, so he is not far removed from throwing. Just the idea of him getting a few more innings to finish the season will be a plus for him.”

Bridwell went 5-2 with a 3.87 ERA on the farm this year, mostly at Bowie. He got called up to the Orioles briefly and allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings in August. Limited to 80 innings this season after missing about two months due to a broken rib, going to the AFL will allow Bridwell to add some needed innings. Added to the O’s 40-man roster last November, Bridwell was moved from the Double-A starting rotation to a bullpen role in July and is expected to work out of the bullpen moving forward.

Top 10 chat: Baseball America released its latest top 10 Orioles prospects list on Monday. Yesterday, I hosted a chat at Baseball America for readers talking O’s prospects. You can read the transcript by clicking here and feel free to leave any prospect questions/comments today.

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