Once again, PECOTA not bullish on the O’s, plus other notes

Would it surprise you to know that the New York Yankees have not won the American League East since the 2012 season? Baltimore, Boston and Toronto have all won the East since New York was last on top by two games over the Orioles, with 95 to 93 wins, in 2012. The Yankees would go on to beat the Orioles that fall in the AL Division Series. As a matter of fact, Baltimore, Boston and Toronto have all finished both first and last in the division since when New York last ruled the East.

But according to the latest PECOTA projections - and probably the opinions of many fans as well - the Yankees’ time has again come. The PECOTA system projects that New York will win 96 games this season and easily top Boston with 87 wins. Pecota projects Tampa Bay to win 84, Toronto 78 and Baltimore 69.

From 2012-2016, PECOTA missed by a big margin with its O’s season projections. In fact, the average projection was 14.6 wins under the actual win total. But last year, PECOTA got back in the game with the Orioles, with its projection of 73 wins, just two off the final total of 75.

oriole-bird-sidebar.jpgHow PECOTA has projected the Orioles:
2012: 71 (won 93)
2013: 75 (won 85)
2014: 75 (won 96)
2015: 78 (won 81)
2016: 72 (won 89)
2017: 73 (won 75)

What is your take on the latest projection?

Wilson to the Bronx: The Texas Rangers traded an NFL quarterback on Wednesday. They dealt the baseball rights to Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks to the Yankees for future considerations. Wilson had been officially in the Rangers organization, although he apparently has no desire to try and play both sports.

Seeing Wilson’s name back among baseball news gives me another chance to dust off a story I have written here twice over the years. It was about the time when the Orioles drafted Wilson in the 41st round of the 2007 draft out of Collegiate School in Richmond, Va.

The Orioles felt Wilson had top 10-round baseball talent, but he fell in that draft due to his firm commitment to attend North Carolina State and play both sports. Still, the Orioles took a run at him then. The Orioles reportedly made Wilson a $350,000 offer to try and buy him out of that college commitment. It was the third-highest offer the O’s made that year after Matt Wieters got $6 million and Jake Arrieta $1.1 million.

Wilson actually did play on the farm in 2010-11 in the Rockies organization, batting .229 in 93 games in Single-A ball. This time, he will apparently appear at spring training with New York, but mostly just to work out and lend some advice to younger players.

No more flash drives: No, we are not talking about data backup or transferring computer files. We are talking about the end of Ryan Flaherty’s tenure as an Oriole. He signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday. So the player known as “Flash” now moves to the National League.

Taken in the 2011 Rule 5 draft from the Chicago Cubs, Flaherty handled the utility role for the Orioles for most of the last six seasons. I thought he did a solid job, especially on defense. I also feel his play was analyzed and overanalyzed more than any utility player I’ve ever seen.

He was no star, of course, and while many fans seemed to appreciate and value his play in his role, others wanted so much more out of a utility guy, especially with the bat.

He was always a class act for reporters, available for an interview or just to shoot the breeze. He got to know your name and always made sure to see how we were doing. Sometimes the small things can mean a lot.

He was liked and respected it seemed by his teammates. As for me, I wish him well. Not because he was a great quote, because he was seldom that. But because he’s a great person - he is always that.

Will Lynn come on in to the Orioles rotation?: Per this article from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, right-hander Lance Lynn could be headed to Baltimore. He reports that the Orioles have shown the most interest of late and predicts they will sign the right-hander for three years at a price of $57 million.

They certainly have both openings in their rotation and some money to spend. Can this match actually get done?

Last year for the St. Louis Cardinals, Lynn went 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA over 33 starts and 186 1/3 innings. He ranked sixth in the National League in average against (.223), seventh in ERA and induced a career-best 20 double plays.

Lynn had Tommy John surgery in November 2015 and missed the entire 2016 season. But last year, he allowed two earned runs or less 23 times and had 18 quality starts. He did yield a career-high 27 homers for a rate of 1.3 per every nine innings. That is well over his career rate of 0.8 per nine.

Lynn has been a Cardinal throughout a six-year career. But he has pitched in 24 career games versus AL teams, going 5-8 with a 3.58 ERA. He actually has solid numbers in very limited innings against the AL East - save for one team. His career ERA is 7.30 in 12 1/3 innings against the Orioles.

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