Orioles gift suggestions during the holiday season

The plate of cookies is empty expect for a few crumbs.

The glass of milk has been drained, leaving those thin lactose lines clinging to the sides.

I can’t resist a late-night snack.

‘Tis the season to be jolly and to run up huge credit card bills. I have some Orioles gift suggestions for any holiday that they celebrate.

For Mike Elias: A starting pitcher and a left-handed hitting first baseman.

The Orioles signed starter Kyle Gibson, second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier and reliever Mychal Givens to major league contracts and traded for catcher James McCann. Givens and McCann arrived back-to-back last week.

There’s more work to do.

Finding a starter is a difficult task with the club’s limits on contract length and cost, and with a market that’s spun out of control. A trade still appears to be the best way to go, with the Orioles able to offer enticing prospect packages.

I covered this team when prospect packages were returned to sender.

For Austin Hays: Good health and consistency throughout the 2023 season.

Hays avoided the injured list this season but he was banged up, including a spiked hand and sore wrist.

There was early talk of Hays being a candidate for Most Valuable Oriole after he batted .293/.377/.467 in April and .299/.355/.443 in May. He had seven doubles, six home runs and 23 RBIs in 26 June games, but slashed .220/.276/.349 after the All-Star break.

Hays hit one home run after Aug. 27. He fell into some bad habits, but he expects to bounce back.

For Bryan Baker: A designer bag to carry his September success into 2023.

Baker made his first Opening Day roster and spent the entire season in the majors. He became the first Orioles rookie to pitch in 66 games since Givens in 2016.

The right-hander posted a 2.13 ERA in his final 40 appearances and a 1.82 ERA in his last 22. He didn’t allow a run in his last 11 games over 12 1/3 innings.

Where others began to sputter down the stretch, Baker was burning rubber.

Can he do the same next April after being parked in the garage all winter?

For Lewin Díaz: A permanent address.

This poor guy has been claimed off waivers twice since November, the Orioles designated him for assignment Wednesday morning to make room for Givens, and they traded him to the Braves Thursday night for cash considerations.

His idea of a team hotel is an Airbnb.

The Orioles could have tried to become the rare team that actually sneaked him through waivers, but they took the money and ran.

For Joey Krehbiel: A season consisting of two first halves.

Krehbiel made his first career Opening Day roster and posted a 2.18 ERA and 0.970 WHIP before the break, and a 6.20 ERA and 1.581 WHIP after it.

The right-hander allowed nine runs and 13 hits in 10 innings in September and was optioned.

If only the new collective bargaining agreement had dissolved the All-Star Game.

For Cionel Pérez: A schedule that’s two-thirds home games.

Pérez was one of the biggest surprises this season with a 1.40 ERA that ranked second in club history behind Zack Britton (0.54 in 2016) among pitchers with at least 57 innings. His walk rate per nine innings dropped from 7.5 to 3.3.

Pérez registered a 2.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings on the road. Sounds good, right?

It is, but Pérez surrendered two runs (one earned) in 35 home games for a 0.29 ERA in 31 1/3 innings that was the sixth-best by a major league pitcher since 1912 – minimum 30 innings – and the lowest since Britton’s 0.26 ERA in 34 2/3 innings in 2016.

For Tyler Nevin: Room to grow.

Gunnar Henderson is the likely third baseman on Opening Day, with Ramón Urías and his Gold Glove also in the mix. Ryan Mountcastle is the starting first baseman, and the Orioles want that left-handed hitter to back him up.

Hays and Anthony Santander are the corner outfielders, and manager Brandon Hyde has plenty of other choices.

Nevin was blocked at every turn, and the Orioles designated him for assignment Wednesday to create room for McCann on the 40-man roster.

For Jorge Mateo: A Gold Glove.

The Fielding Bible Award was nice. No knock against it. But Mateo wasn’t even a finalist for a Rawlings Gold Glove.

He earned the honor. The data supported it. He passed the eye test.

For Dean Kremer: Bling for being the actual jewel of the Manny Machado trade.

That was the description given to Cuban outfielder Yusniel Díaz, but he became a bust – harsh phrasing, I know - due primarily to his inability to stay healthy.

Rylan Bannon, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera also are out of the organization. Kremer, meanwhile, solidified his spot in the rotation and in the majors this year, the highlights including a complete-game shutout against the Astros and a scoreless streak of 22 2/3 innings.

Machado is in San Diego. Kremer appears to be cemented in the Orioles’ pitching plans.

For Bruce Zimmermann: A do-over.

Zimmermann broke camp as the No. 4 starter, which meant that the Baltimore native would pitch in the home opener. The media ate it up.

He began the season with 14 scoreless innings.

And then, it unraveled like a cheap Christmas sweater.

Zimmermann made 13 starts and 15 total appearances and posted a 5.99 ERA in 73 2/3 innings. He surrendered 21 home runs, tying a franchise record with five in a May 29 game in Boston.

A feel-good story needs a rewrite.

For Félix Bautista: An extra gear in September.

The big man was outstanding as a rookie in 2022. He registered a 2.19 ERA and 0.929 WHIP in 65 games, became the closer and notched 15 saves, struck out 88 batters in 65 2/3 innings, and held opponents to a .167 average.  

So good that his entrances were accompanied by a light show and hype video.

Carrying so much heat that 203 of his pitches were clocked at 100 mph or higher.

But Bautista had a 1.53 ERA in his first 59 games through Sept. 1 and an 8.10 ERA in his last six. Arm fatigue led to him being shut down.

One of the challenges for a young pitcher is maintaining effectiveness and stamina as the season moves past what he’s used to in the minors.

And now, the winter lightning round:   

For Brandon Hyde: Similar production out of his bullpen.

Funny how much better a manger becomes when he can trust his relievers.

For Gunnar Henderson: A device that lowers expectations.

Fans and media already are talking about his Rookie of the Year candidacy.

For Grayson Rodriguez: The same device.

Maybe they come two to a pack.

For Ryan McKenna: A Ferrari.

If it's going to be his nickname, it's only right that he starts driving one.

For Mike Baumann: A defined role.

Choose between starter or reliever and let the development flow.

For Kyle Stowers: Helmets that fit.

They should come with an ejection switch for those occasions when he wants his blonde locks to flow.

For Brett Phillips: Someone to talk to.

Anyone. It doesn’t matter.

For Adley Rutschman: A ghost-written Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

He’s so busy. Would be nice to have one ready.

Trust an elf to convey his feelings.

In this season of giving, I’m handing over the rest of the list to you.

Merry Christmas. I appreciate you.

What's done and what remains for Orioles
What might be still to come for the Orioles

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