Notes on Ynoa, Means and defense

With pitcher Gabriel Ynoa out of the organization again, is it possible that the Orioles bring him back on another minor league deal?

That ship hasn’t sailed, from what I can glean. But he isn’t in the same hurry to reach agreement and the Orioles aren’t devoting their offseason to forging the latest reunion.

Ynoa-Orange-Away-sidebar.jpgYnoa was outrighted Monday afternoon, declined the assignment and became a free agent. The same three-step dance that occurred last year. Except Ynoa wasted no time finding a partner, accepting a minor league contract with the Orioles on the same day.

He’s going to search for a major league offer, but I doubt that one is out there for him.

The numbers won’t have teams lining up at his door and he’s out of minor league options, which lessens his value. Can’t be sent down without clearing waivers and has the freedom to keep declining outright assignments, though to do so in-season means forfeiting money.

Ynoa cleared waivers again, also a gauge to calculate how the rest of the league views him. He could be signed to provide more pitching depth, whether with the Orioles or another club. And he’d have to compete for a job in spring training as a non-roster invitee.

Experience as a starter and reliever looks nice on a resume, but Ynoa is 4-13 with a 5.39 ERA and 1.418 WHIP in 55 major league games. He averaged only 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings this summer.

What he did was cover innings, with 110 2/3 ranking third on the club behind Dylan Bundy (161 2/3) and John Means (155). But the Orioles will search the free agent and trade markets for more reliable pitching and try to keep their prospects moving in the right direction.

* Means will find out Monday night whether he can spring another professional upset and win the American League’s Rookie of the Year award.

He’s more likely to finish second or third, with the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez the heavy favorite.

Means is in the organization because of scout Adrian Dorsey, who pushed for the Orioles to draft the left-hander out of West Virginia University. Means was chosen in the 11th round in 2014.

The Orioles severed ties with Dorsey and 10 other employees in scouting and the front office back in August, including director of baseball operations Tripp Norton.

Dorsey, who also signed pitcher David Hess, hasn’t caught on with another club, but he’s interviewed with the Mets and Marlins.

Means is trying to become the first Oriole to be named Rookie of the Year since Gregg Olson in 1989. Past recipients of the award also include Ron Hansen (1960), Curt Blefary (1965), Al Bumbry (1973), Eddie Murray (1977) and Cal Ripken Jr. (1982).

Ripken is the last Oriole to win the AL’s Most Valuable Player award, in 1991. Steve Stone won the team’s last Cy Young, in 1980.

Oakland right-hander Mike Norris demanded a recount.

* None of the Orioles were chosen as finalists for a Rawlings Gold Glove and none were honored as a Wilson Defensive Player of the Year. The fielding has to improve in order for the win total to do the same. They know it.

(Not that we’re obsessing over wins and losses only one full season into the rebuild. Still doesn’t matter.)

There’s one interesting defensive statistic to come out of the 2019 season.

The Orioles turned 156 double plays to tie the Braves for fourth in the majors. The White Sox and Cardinals were first with 170, followed by the Rockies with 167.

Even through the stages of a defensive decline, the Orioles managed to turn 159 in 2018 to rank fifth in the majors.

A cynic might say a pitching staff that puts a lot of runners on base presents more opportunities for double plays. They wouldn’t be wrong. But at least the Orioles are turning ‘em.

The Orioles ranked second in 2017 with 175 and tied for fifth in 2016, their last playoff season, with 165. They were 22nd in 2015 with 134 after ranking fourth in 2014 with 156 while winning the division.

The front office, manager Brandon Hyde and his staff might be more interested this year in the .982 fielding percentage that ranked 23rd and the unfavorable metrics attached to numerous players.

They also will need to figure out the double play combo for 2020, which could undergo dramatic changes if Jonathan Villar doesn’t stay in the organization and Richie Martin is optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

* The Angels announced their coaching staff under new manager Joe Maddon, and it includes John Mallee as assistant hitting coach.

The Orioles had interest in Mallee and he definitely was a candidate, but he drew interest from multiple teams and accepted the Angels’ offer.

Mallee is reunited with Maddon after serving as Cubs hitting coach.

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