Gallagher removed from Orioles' 40-man roster

GettyImages-451870398

The Orioles shaved another catcher off their 40-man roster.

They’re down to two.

The club announced tonight that Cam Gallagher declined his outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk and elected free agency after clearing waivers. Gallagher was selected off waivers from the Padres Sept. 11 but didn’t play for the Orioles.

Gallagher was eligible for arbitration. That list is down to six players.

Anthony Bemboom accepted his outright assignment to Norfolk, as previously reported, and is expected to compete for a backup job in spring training.

Continue reading

Because You Asked - State of the Union

lyles pitch home orange

The first post-World Series mailbag has been emptied. Much like my hopes for a Game 7.

There’s nothing better in sports. And it delays the actual offseason for one more day.

I’ve grown to love the period of calm. A few small-scale transactions and some announcements on awards, but that’s about it.

(I picked the Astros in six games, but I digress …)

Now we’re ripe for rumors. I’ve already seen one prediction that the Orioles will sign Carlos Correa.

Continue reading

Hyde and Rutschman finalists in BBWAA voting

GettyImages-1392254511-2

The Orioles have two finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards, with manager Brandon Hyde a candidate for American League Manager of the Year and catcher Adley Rutschman a candidate for American League Rookie of the Year.

Two names that have been anticipated for months. No surprise omissions or entries.

Hyde joins the Guardians’ Terry Francona and the Mariners’ Scott Servais as finalists. Rutschman, Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez and Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan are vying for the rookie award.

The Sporting News already selected Hyde. Rodriguez, the only player in major league history with 25-plus home runs and 25-plus stolen bases in his debut season, won the Players Choice Award.

Hyde can become the first Orioles manager honored since Buck Showalter in 2014. Rutschman can become the first Rookie of the Year since reliever Gregg Olson in 1989.

Continue reading

Awards, free agency and more

hyde contemplating

Finalists for the four Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards will be announced tonight beginning at 6 p.m. on MLB Network. Plan your meals around it.

The top three finishers will be revealed in alphabetical order, so don’t panic if it takes a while for Adley Rutschman’s name to appear among American League rookies.

Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez will be called ahead of him. Rutschman, Rodriguez and the Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr. were finalists for the Players Choice Award, with the Mariners outfielder taking the honor.

The Guardian’s Steven Kwan could bump Witt from some BBWAA ballots. It would be shocking if Rutschman or Rodriguez were excluded. Rodriguez is widely viewed as the favorite.

MLB.com’s rookie power rankings posted on Oct. 5 had Rodriguez first in the AL, followed by Rutschman, Kwan, Witt, the Twins’ Joe Ryan and the Mariners’ George Kirby.

Continue reading

More questions for the front office (updated)

odor w hays dugout gray

Armchair general managers remained on call throughout the World Series. Can't put away the cell phone or shut the laptop.

There's lots of work to do. Never mind that your salary isn't enough to tip the DoorDash driver.

You're in it for the love of the game.

I already posed three questions: whether you’d re-sign first baseman Jesús Aguilar, whether you’d pick up Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option and whether you’d trade an outfielder.

Here are two more:

Continue reading

Servideo back in good health and working to stay that way

GettyImages-457264630

Helping a friend move yesterday wasn’t part of Anthony Servideo’s offseason workout program, but it offered further evidence of his improved health. Some heavy lifting that couldn’t be taken lightly after everything he’s gone through.

The Orioles chose Servideo in the third round of the truncated 2020 draft out of the University of Mississippi, intrigued by his athleticism at shortstop, the lateral movement and soft hands. He was a top 30 prospect in the system until injuries and the influx of other talented young infielders lowered his status.

Professional baseball has exposed its fickle side to Servideo. Rewarding on draft day and in many of the games that he’s played, but cruel in its delays and interruptions.

The pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, circumstances beyond his control. Servideo underwent sports hernia surgery in July 2021, stayed back at extended spring training this year and returned to the injured list in July with a groin strain.

A total of 44 games in two seasons spread between the Florida Complex League and Single-A Delmarva. Not exactly how he imagined it.

Continue reading

Orioles sign Cave to 2023 contract

cave twins

Outfielder Jake Cave is no longer eligible for arbitration.

The Orioles reduced their list today by agreeing to terms with Cave on a split contract for the 2023 season, with his salary determined by whether he’s in the majors or minors.

Cave was claimed off waivers from the Twins on Oct. 11, the Orioles’ second roster move following the season. They designated reliever Jake Reed for assignment and the Red Sox claimed him.

Cave, 29, appeared in 54 games with the Twins and batted .213/.260/.384 with seven doubles, three triples, five home runs and 20 RBIs in 177 plate appearances. He’s a career .235/.297/.411 hitter in parts of five major league seasons.

The Yankees selected Cave in the sixth round of the 2011 draft out of Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Va. The Reds chose him in the 2015 Rule 5 draft and returned him on April 5, 2016. The Yankees traded Cave to the Twins on March 16, 2018 for pitcher Luis Gil.

Continue reading

This, that and the other

brandon hyde

The Orioles can’t be assured of anything next season based on their success in 2022. It might be a launching pad. It might raise hopes and expectations that can’t be met.

If momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, it can’t be relied on to sustain through the winter and spring. The slate is clean for everybody.

Though it’s still early, with the last game played only a month ago, the Orioles are anticipating a return to absolute normalcy.

The pandemic shut down spring training in 2020, chopped the schedule down to 60 games and destroyed the minor league season, and its influence remained in 2021. The expiration of the old collective bargaining agreement last December led to a prolonged shutdown, late start to a shortened spring training, and significant adjustments to the schedule and how earlier games were managed.

Everyone had the same challenges, but the field wasn’t level. Some teams were better equipped to handle the strife than others.

Continue reading

Urías reacts to first Gold Glove and updates knee injury

Ramon-Urias-throwing-white

The surprised reactions this week to Ramón Urías winning a Gold Glove at third base weren’t shared by the Orioles infielder.

Urías knew the numbers. He understood that his chances were good. He didn’t concede the honor to Toronto’s Matt Chapman or Cleveland’s José Ramírez.

Let the others express their doubts and skepticism.

The 14 Defensive Runs Saved, 10.9 Ultimate Zone Rating and 11.1 SABR Defensive Index computed for Urías led all American League third basemen. He was armed with solid arguments.

“I knew that I had a shot to win at Gold Glove this year, especially because of the metrics,” Urías said today on a video call with media.

Continue reading

The many mistakes made in preseason evaluations of 2022 Orioles

mateo throws white

The Orioles had their predictable side this season. The skinny side.

Adley Rutschman made his major league debut and lived up to the hype. He’s getting votes for American League Rookie of the Year. He’s the real deal.

What else?

Reciting the shockers is more time consuming. Rest breaks are recommended.

The winning record and playoff contention until the last road series is No. 1, which leads to Brandon Hyde’s unexpected status as favorite to be named American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Continue reading

Some important dates on the baseball calendar

GettyImages-1407427238

The World Series is three games deep, stalled a bit after Monday night’s postponement in Philadelphia. The real offseason also is on hold, with some teams making smaller 40-man roster moves until the heavy lifting commences.

For example, the Orioles must decide five days after the World Series whether to exercise Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option. That’s a big one.

They can keep him, they can put him back on the free agent market with a $1 million buyout and move on, or they can decline it and attempt to re-sign him to a lesser deal.

There's also the pick up and trade possibility, which happened with shortstop José Iglesias. Probably not, but it has to be mentioned. 

Players on the 60-day injured list will return to the 40-man roster. John Means is the last Oriole after Chris Ellis’ outright to Triple-A Norfolk. Other players who are pending free agents finally can hit the market after the World Series.

Continue reading

Urías wins first Gold Glove

GettyImages-1427041583

Ramón Urías didn’t break camp with a regular spot in the Orioles’ lineup. His position wasn’t set. But he received validation this afternoon for his defensive excellence.

Urías, 28, is the recipient of a Gold Glove at third base in the American League, beating out the Blue Jays’ Matt Chapman and the Guardians’ José Ramírez. The announcement was made this afternoon.

No Oriole had won a Gold Glove since Manny Machado in 2015. Urías, Machado and Brooks Robinson are the only Orioles third basemen to be honored.

Eighteen Orioles have received Gold Gloves, with Urías the only one lacking multiple awards. Robinson is tied with pitcher Jim Kaat for second place all-time with 16.

Urias' 14 defensive runs saved led all AL third basemen and ranked third in the majors, and they were the most by an Orioles player at the position since Machado in 2015. His 10.9 ultimate zone rating also led AL third basemen.

Continue reading

Offseason workouts lifted Watson to organizational pitching award

Ryan-Watson-Bowie-white

Ryan Watson didn’t seek out a trainer during the offseason to decrease his chances of being injured. It was more about eliminating some mobility issues, concentrating on hip work and “becoming very aware of his body because he’s so tall,” said Theo Aasen, a strength and conditioning coach who owns Optimal Athlete Kollective in Tampa.

Never did the 6-foot-5 Watson imagine that he’d rise above others in the Orioles organization to be named its minor league Pitcher of the Year. An unexpected byproduct of the many improvements that included a sharper slider and an uptick in fastball velocity.

Watson often worked in the 89-91 mph range last year in his first professional season. He climbed to 93-95 mph this summer and was able to reach 96-97.

Watson’s representative, Francis Marquez of The MAS+ Agency, suggested that the right-hander meet with Aasen.  

“He’s never really lifted in a style that I train, so we taught him how to lift properly and use a full range of strength,” said Aasen, who also worked with Austin Hays, changing the outfielder’s weightlifting routine to get his body more in baseball shape, with improved flexibility, rather than just bulking up. Hays avoided the injured list this year.

Continue reading

Opposing scout offers Kyle Schwarber comp on Heston Kjerstad

Heston-Kjerstad-Aberdeen

When rosters were revealed last month for every team in the Arizona Fall League, Heston Kjerstad led a group of seven Orioles assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions. He was the biggest name as the second-overall selection in the 2020 draft. He was the biggest deal because, quite simply, everything Kjerstad does warrants our attention.

The draft status, the myocarditis diagnosis, the hamstring injury in March that further delayed his professional debut. The questions about whether Kjerstad would be able to lead a normal, healthy life. Forget baseball for a moment.

But just for a moment.

It always comes back to the game when a player chosen in the first round threatens to be – cruel word alert – a “bust.” But the Orioles weren’t giving up on Kjerstad and he certainly didn’t give up on himself. His attitude remained remarkably positive, and he understood and appreciated the organization’s careful handling of him.

You don’t play around with inflammation of a heart muscle. And on a much smaller scale, you don’t rush the return from a hamstring strain.

Continue reading

Orioles outright Ellis and Garcia

ellis throwing black

Further maneuvering of players on the Orioles’ 40-man roster has created an open spot as they approach a new month and get closer to the start of free agency.

The team announced this afternoon that pitcher Chris Ellis and catcher Aramis Garcia were outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. Ellis first was reinstated from the 60-day injured list.

Ellis made two road starts with the Orioles after they re-signed him to a minor league contract in March, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings on April 19 in Oakland and allowing five runs and walking three batters without retiring anyone on April 24 in Anaheim. He went on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation and underwent arthroscopic surgery on May 4.

The Orioles outrighted Ellis off the 40-man roster after the 2021 season and he elected free agency. He had made six starts and registered a 2.49 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. He walked 13 batters.

Garcia was claimed off waivers from the Reds Oct. 14 after appearing in 47 games and batting .213/.248/.259 in 115 plate appearances.

Continue reading

Returning to reflections on the Orioles' 2022 season

Anthony Santander white

I think The Supremes said it best when they sang, “Reflections of, the way the season used to be.”

Or something close to that.

My reflections are continuing into late October, after the Orioles took their fans on a thrill ride until finally running out of gas.

I’ve already noted how Matt Harvey never had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk, Gunnar Henderson earned a promotion despite his age, Yusniel Diaz stayed only for a cup of coffee, Rougned Odor lasted into September, we never saw Robert Neustrom, DJ Stewart didn’t make it back to the Orioles after three games to begin the season, Jorge Mateo was exclusively a shortstop, Bryan Baker stuck for the entire season, Nick Vespi will never give up another Triple-A run, Joey Krehbiel disappeared after almost going wire-to-wire, Terrin Vavra could wear many hats next season, Jacob Nottingham didn’t get back to the majors, César Prieto’s 2022 ceiling was Double-A, we don’t know how the Orioles view Mike Baumann, and Chris Ellis’ second chance with the Orioles was much worse than the first.

Here are two more:

Continue reading

Ryan Minor diagnosed with colon cancer

GettyImages-72562836

I’m going to peel away from the standard baseball talk this morning and share some sad news about former Orioles third baseman Ryan Minor.

Minor, 48, recently was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. His twin brother, Damon, is involved in setting up a GoFundMe page to gather donations on behalf of his wife Allyson.

Why good people keep being hit with this kind of news is forever a source of tremendous frustration. And you can be sure that Minor is one of the really good guys in the industry and outside of it. A high-character individual and as nice as they come.

Minor spent parts of three seasons with the Orioles from 1998-2000 and finished his major league career with the Expos in 2001 after they acquired him in a trade for reliever Jorge Julio.

The Orioles hired Minor as hitting and infield coach with Single-A Delmarva in 2008, after he served as the first hitting coach for the independent York Revolution. He managed the Shorebirds from 2010-12 and high Single-A Frederick in 2013 before returning to Delmarva for the 2014-17 seasons. He managed the Keys again in 2018-19 before the Tigers hired him to manage in the Gulf Coast League in 2020.

Continue reading

Mateo gets glove love with Fielding Bible award

mateo throws white

Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo wasn’t deemed worthy of being a finalist for a Rawlings Gold Glove in the American League, a snub that drew attention inside and outside of the organization. He dazzled and was denied.

If it stung Mateo, he was soothed yesterday with news that he’s receiving a Fielding Bible Award as the best defensive shortstop in the majors.

In either league. One shortstop is selected based on statistical analysis from sabermetrically inclined journalists and other personnel, and it’s Mateo.

The news release from Baseball Info Solutions included this passage on Mateo:

Jorge Mateo was instrumental to the Orioles resurgence, finishing a close third among shortstops with 14 Defensive Runs Saved and tied for second in Good Fielding Plays with 28. He led all shortstops by converting 72 percent of his double play opportunities. He’s the first Orioles shortstop to win the award.”

Continue reading

Hyde chosen as The Sporting News AL Manager of the Year

GettyImages-139071544_20221027-165124_1

Awards season already is upon us.

The Sporting News has named Brandon Hyde as it’s 2022 American League Manager of the Year. The winner is chosen in a survey of players, managers and executives.

Hyde led an historic turnaround this season, with the Orioles improving by 31 games and posting its first winning record since 2016.

Seven Orioles managers have received the award. Hank Bauer won it in 1966, Hall of Famer Earl Weaver in 1977 and 1979, Frank Robinson in 1989, Johnny Oates in 1993, Davey Johnson in 1997, and Buck Showater in 2012.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America reveals its winners next month, and Hyde is a favorite to be honored again. He received 50 percent of The Sporting News votes to outdistance Houston’s Dusty Baker and Cleveland’s Terry Francona.

Continue reading

This, that and the other

santander 2 more hr gray

The local media doesn’t vote on an award that honors the Most Improved Oriole. Deciding on an MVO can be hard enough, and the field expanded this year. Too many players to fit on a three-man ballot.

Who deserved recognition as the imaginary MIO?

Maybe it was outfielder Anthony Santander, who registered career-best numbers in multiple categories. Or shortstop Jorge Mateo, who led the American League in stolen bases. Or starter Dean Kremer, who lowered his ERA from 7.55 last year to 3.23 and his WHIP from 1.640 to 1.253. Or one of the relievers, with Félix Bautista and Cionel Pérez leading the pack.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias couldn’t single out one player back on Oct. 5 when asked who took the biggest step forward.

“I think one of the things that I’m most proud of with this year’s team is you can take all 28 guys who are in that room right now and pretty much make the argument that every single one of their careers is in as good or a better place than it was a calendar year ago,” Elias said.

Continue reading