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Noteworthy day

Some notes to wrap up another year of blogging for me here at MASNsports.com. Thanks to everyone for reading all year and Happy New Year! Right before the 2010 season began, I made some fearless predictions about the O’s and the AL East. Here are some of those predictions and how they fared vs. what really happened. Steve’s predicted 2010 AL East standings: Boston 94-68

Hobgood: “O’s didn’t get damaged goods”

In a way, Matt Hobgood is relieved that doctors say he has a strained rotator cuff. To him, that perhaps is the best explanation yet why the fastball velocity he had in three high school seasons, has never surfaced in two years of pro ball with the Orioles. Hobgood, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft, had an MRI last week and now doctors

Exclusive: O’s prospect Matt Hobgood talks about his shoulder injury

In a phone conversation this afternoon, Matt Hobgood said he felt some soreness in his shoulder during a light, mid-December throwing session and that led him to pre-Christmas visits with Drs. John Wilckens and Lewis Yocum. They both said he has a strained rotator cuff, but does not need surgery. Hobgood described this as “a minor setback” but also said it’s possible his shoulder problems

Still a Hobgood fan? Yep.

Today, I find myself once again writing about Matt Hobgood. Some fans and commenters to this and other blogs just can’t get enough of the guy and commenting on his selection by the Orioles with their top pick in 2009. I know the majority of fans and readers here wish him the best and support him. I also know there are a few fans who

O’s can never have enough starting pitching

Do the Orioles need to add starting pitching? I say the answer to that question is a clear yes. Others may say the Orioles already have six pitchers for five starting spots in Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton. The only problem with that thinking is that having even six is not enough. Not over a full season.

Roberts, Jones and Markakis at the top

It is hard to project what the Orioles batting order could or should be for the 2011 season since all the parts are not in place yet. But I still think the most effective top of the order, or top three spots in the order, could be with Brian Roberts batting first, Adam Jones second and Nick Markakis third. I suspect many fans first thought

Merry Christmas Birdland!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone in Birdland! Thanks for all you do to keep this blog popular and please know that I never take you for granted. No great baseball thoughts today, except one small one. I hope all long-suffering O’s fans realize that anyone can easily root for a winner. Being an Orioles’ fan is tough. I know, I’ve been one for

It’s just about time for the gifts

Growing up as a kid on Third Street in Overlea, Christmas was a magical time for me. As another holiday season has arrived, I hope we all can experience some of that magic we felt as a kid and remember the special friends and family in our lives. Since my parents would always let us open a few presents on Christmas Eve after returning from

Some random O’s takes

Well, I am now back from vacation and back on the East Coast. After several days in Las Vegas, my energy and bankroll were both running low so I made it home just in time. I would say more, but, as you all know, what happens in Vegas....... Thanks to the MASNsports.com staff for publishing some stories I had left behind to run over the

Komminsk on his new role and some Bowie hitters

After managing the last three seasons at Double-A Bowie, Brad Komminsk will work in a new role for the Orioles during the 2011 season: hitting coach for Triple-A Norfolk. What will be some keys for him in this role? “I think egos and stuff and getting guys to trust you,” Komminsk said. “Hitters can be fragile and they have everybody in their ear. Every player

More Rule 5 draft talk with Lee MacPhail

I had a conversation recently with Lee MacPhail, the Orioles’ director of pro scouting, who was heavily involved with the club’s preparations for the Rule 5 draft, among other projects. Click here to see his take on Adrian Rosario, the 21-year-old righty the club took with the fourth pick in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings. Here is what MacPhail said about the

Dave Schmidt talks about Hobgood’s fastball

When the topic is Matt Hobgood the Orioles’ first-round pick in 2009, the discussion among fans often turns to whether or not he was taken as signability pick by the club. Fans also talk about his conditioning, or lack thereof. I recently interviewed O’s minor league pitcher coordinator Dave Schmidt, who detailed improvements Hobgood is looking to make. All of that is well and good,

Buck was on board with the Rosario selection

When the Orioles took 21-year-old pitcher Adrian Rosario in last week’s Rule 5 draft, they selected a pitcher with a good arm, but very little experience. The youngster from the Dominican has thrown only 183 career innings, most in rookie ball. When he pitched 32 innings for Wisconsin of the Single-A Midwest League last summer, those were his first career innings above rookie-ball level. The

Avery reflects on his AFL experience

He may not have hit for a high average in the Arizona Fall League, but O’s outfield prospect Xavier Avery felt like he made progress with his game in his time with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the AFL. The lefty hitter, who turns 21 on New Year’s Day, batted .188-0-5 in 21 games with six steals. “I went in there to focus on just getting

Guzman heads for Japan, Reimold a comeback candidate

Joel Guzman led Orioles minor leagues in homers and RBIs last year at Double-A Bowie and he recently turned that solid 2010 season into a nice, new contract. But he has to leave the country to get it. Guzman signed a one-year deal with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. He did not get an offer to join any major league team’s 40-man roster. The Orioles

How to compete in the East: Win the arms race

How do the Orioles compete in the AL East? It is a fair question. If the Orioles added Mark Reynolds and J.J Hardy, while Boston added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, haven’t the Orioles lost ground to Boston? The answer is almost certainly yes. I can’t imagine anyone figured the O’s to make a move or moves to top the two Boston made. That is

Checking in on Australia

Four Orioles farmhands were playing winter ball in the Australian Baseball League. Now, there are three. Righty Brett Jacobsen was there, but, as of Thursday he was traded to Minnesota in the deal that sent J. J. Hardy to Baltimore. The 24-year-old Jacobsen came to the O’s in a trade on August 17, 2009 from Detroit for Aubrey Huff. This winter with the Perth Heat,

The games (baseball) people play

Since I had only been to the Winter Meetings once before, I was looking forward to this past week. Being among the top brass and media in baseball sounds like a good time. It is, although keep in mind you just don’t rub elbows with anyone you want anytime you want. Sure, you see big-name agents and GMs walking through the lobby, but they are

Stockstill said no deal on Green

O’s director of player development John Stockstill said tonight the Orioles have not signed infielder Nick Green, contradicting a published report that said they had signed Green to a minor league contract with a spring invite. “We have not signed Green. At no point did we ever agree to terms,” Stockstill said. “It was contigent on the player evaluating our major league shortstop situation.” You

MacPhail makes a comeback with the fans

Way to go, sweater vest! Is it possible that Andy MacPhail, who was getting crushed by fans on this blog just a week or so ago, is now becoming popular among many O’s fans? I haven’t seen a comeback this dramatic since that O’s-Red Sox game in May 2009. One thing the last few days have shown us. Just because the O’s were not mentioned

Steve and Roch wrap it up in Orlando

It has been an eventful few days for the Orioles at the winter meetings. But all good things sometimes end and so these meetings in Orlando finished up today. The O’s filled needs on the left side of their infield with Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy and also with the re-signing of Koji Uehara for the bullpen. They would still like to add some offense

Pat Egan’s big day

Right-hander Pat Egan began today as a minor league pitcher in the O’s organization. But after being taken in the Rule 5 draft, he is now on the Milwaukee Brewers’ major league roster. “I’m still trying to piece it all together,” Egan said by phone moments ago. “It’s kind of surreal right now. I’ve been getting a lot of calls and texts and I’m just

What about Hardy’s defense?

A couple of readers have asked about and offered opinions about J.J. Hardy and his defense at shortstop. Here is what Andy MacPhail said about Hardy’s defense: “We like his defense. If you look at those UZR ratings, he is very top of the chart. We think he’ll provide us more offense and he is a good defender.” Is he as good as Cesar Izturis?

More Rosario stats

The Orioles certainly took a young arm, that at least on the stat sheet, looks far away from the Major Leagues. Right-hander Adrian Rosario is just 21, from Santiago, Dominican Republic. The O’s took him in today’s Rule 5 draft with the 4th pick and he would have to stay on their 25-man Major League roster all season. Rosario began last season with Helena of

MacPhail on the addition of Adrian Rosario

Here are some comments from Andy MacPhail on Adrian Rosario, the right-handed pitcher the O’s took from the Milwaukee organization in this morning’s Rule 5 draft: “Big bodied, lack of experience, good arm kid that captured the imagination of our guys. He has a chance to grow into something, whether he is ready or not, we’ll find out. Didn’t feel like we could miss the

Some solid moves by the O’s

Can’t a guy even get five hours of sleep around here. Around 6 p.m. yesterday, Andy MacPhail said he thought there would not be any moves last night. Guess he meant other than the contract for Koji Uehara and the trade for J.J. Hardy. Other than that, the last few hours have been quiet. We’ve had seemingly nonstop rumors about the O’s for two days

Koji is coming back

Koji Uehara will return to the Orioles’ bullpen for the 2011 season. A Baltimore Sun report tonight said the O’s have agreed to a new one-year contract with Uehara that includes a vesting option for the 2012 year. That is an option that kicks in if Uehara meets certain performance clauses during the coming year. Uehara went 1-2, 2.86 with 13 saves last season. He

Rule 5 draft primer

The Rule 5 draft, one of the last official activities at baseball’s annual winter meetings, takes place here at the meetings on Thursday morning. The teams select in the order they will in next June’s draft, meaning the O’s will have the 4th selection. They do not have to pick and, as most know, any player taken in the major league phase of the draft

MacPhail on first base: “The area where we have the most options”

In the last 24 hours or so, two first basemen have come off the free agent board as Paul Konerko re-signed with the Chicago White Sox and Carlos Pena joined the Cubs on a one-year deal. The Orioles got neither and despite reports where Pena himself said the Orioles made him an offer, O’s president Andy MacPhail said the club never offered a contract to

Trembley could have been back with the O’s organization

He was once a manager in the Orioles farm system and, as of a few weeks ago, Dave Trembley was almost back in the O’s organization. Trembley confirmed today that the Orioles offered him a job managing in their minor leagues for next season. He thought about it, but got an offer from Atlanta and recently accepted a position as the Braves’ minor league field

Confederate money again?

At least one reporter seems to think so. Click here for the tweet. At least the O’s are trying, some would debate the degree and level of that, but they might be one of the leaders for rumors generated in the last few days here at the winter meetings.

Scott Boras speaks

It seems to happen just about every year at the baseball winter meetings: Agent Scott Boras talks in a hallway and dozens of reporters jockey for position to try and hear the interview and get close enough to ask a question or two. This time, I got close enough to hear an answer or two of three. He didn’t cover anything specifically on the Orioles

Jim Callis’ take on the Rule 5 draft

When I interviewed Baseball America’s Jim Callis here yesterday, we also talked about tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft. In last year’s Rule 5 draft, the Giants took O’s minor league pitcher Steve Johnson, but he eventually was sent back to the Orioles during spring training. Callis feels reliever Wynn Pelzer, the pitcher acquired by the O’s in the Miguel Tejada trade with San Diego, is the

Will O’s and Kevin Gregg be a match?

As of this morning, the Orioles’ interest in reliever Kevin Gregg still appears to be strong. The Orioles met with his agents here at the winter meetings on Monday and several teams are reportedly in on Gregg. The 32-year-old right-hander went 2-6, 3.51 with Toronto last season with 37 saves. He fanned 58 over 59 innings. Toronto had two chances to pick up options on

An interview with Baseball America’s Jim Callis

He is one of the best evaluators of baseball talent, especially in the minors, in the country in my humble opinion. Today at the winter meetings here in Florida, I had a chance to once again interview Jim Callis of Baseball America. I got his take on a few O’s related topics. Callis on the Mark Reynolds trade: “I think it’s a great trade from

How does MacPhail deal with player rumors? (w/ exclusive video)

This had to have been an interesting day for the Orioles’ Nolan Reimold. Today his cell phone had to be blowing up with reports that he might be traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He must have gotten several calls and texts; he may have even gotten one or two from the media. I can think of one guy I know that called him. Andy

Will Tillman & Britton battle for fifth starter’s spot?

The Orioles are clearly in the market for pitching, especially the bullpen variety. But what about the rotation? With four spots looking pretty set - with Guthrie, Matusz, Arrietaand Bergesen - who will round out that rotation? O’s manager Buck Showalter said today he is open to a possible competition in camp between Chris Tillman and Zach Britton for that fifth spot. The O’s still

O’s and Atlanta talk Kawakami

An MLB source has confirmed reports that the Orioles and Braves have talked about a possible deal where the O’s would acquire Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami. Those talks started a while ago and other teams are also talking with the Braves and it’s believed Pittsburgh is one of those teams. Atlanta would take on some of his salary and Kawakami is due to get $6.67

A no vote on a proposed Reimold deal

If the deal that is rumored -- Nolan Reimold to Tampa for Jason Bartlett, one for one -- is truly in the works, I vote no on that. I can still hear the words of one-time Aberdeen manager Andy Etchebarren in my ears.”Nolan Reimold will hit 40 homers in the Majors one day,” Etchebarren said a few years back. While some now may think that

Cito Gaston on the economics of the game

He is still probably not well-liked by Orioles fans, but despite that little Mike Mussina thing, I respect Cito Gaston. He was just honored by commissioner Bud Selig here at the winter meetings along with Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre for their service in the game. After the press conference, I asked Gaston his take on the economics of the game, especially as

Talking up Bell and Day 2 begins in Orlando

Whether it was a concerted effort to do so or not, not long after Andy MacPhail announced the acquisition of Mark Reynolds on Monday at the Winter Meetings, the O’s had plenty of praise for young Josh Bell. They wanted everyone to know they still like Bell -- a lot, they say -- and still think he could have a future in Baltimore. Bell hit

Steve and Roch at the winter meetings

To prove we are really here and not blogging from happy hour in Baltimore, take a look at this video. It’s from the lobby at the winter meetings, how exciting. We actually did take time to talk about today’s O’s pickup of third baseman Mark Reynolds and what that could mean to the team. Plus we talked about what move or moves could be coming

Kevin Towers quotes on the Reynolds trade

Here are some comments from today’s press conference from Arizona general manager Kevin Towers: In the deal, the O’s acquired Mark Reynolds and a player to be named or cash for pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. “Sometimes you have to move a good ballplayer to acquire good right-handed arms. We feel like we’ve done so with Hernandez and Mickolio.” “Mark Reynolds was a great

MacPhail: Clean bill of health for Reynolds

A couple of readers have pointed out that Mark Reynolds was hurt late last year. Maybe that is one reason why he went just 4-for-60 with 28 strikeouts, no homers and a .278 OPS for Arizona last September. O’s president Andy MacPhail said there are no injury concerns at all right now with Reynolds. “He had a thumb (issue) that he played through, but we

A few more of Mark Reynolds’ stats

A few more statistics on Mark Reynolds: Last year, he hit .218 vs. left-handed pitching with an OPS of .913 and .191 vs. right-handers with a .694 OPS. His OPS was .863 last year at home and .643 on the road. He hit 20 of his homers in 2010 before the All-Star break and 12 after. He hit his most homers (10) in the fourth

With Reynolds, you get homers, but also strikeouts

So it appears that Mark Reynolds is on his way to Baltimore. He is far from the perfect player, like most of them, but he is a slugger the team has been seeking. Over four years with Arizona, his 162-game averages are .242-35-100 and an OPS of .817. For more of Reynolds’ stats, click here. Over the last three years, he has hit 28, 44

Quick MacPhail comment on Reynolds trade talks

O’s president Andy MacPhail said this morning of the Orioles trade talks to acquire Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds, “We are making progress. Don’t have anything finalized yet, but making progress.” So are the Reynolds talks leading to a conclusion soon? “You never know until it’s over,” MacPhail added. When asked if the deal would involve the O’s sending pitching to Arizona he said, “again,

The fans get stirred up, but MacPhail not ready yet to spend big

It should come as no shock to any O’s fan by now, that barring something very unlikely, the Orioles are just not going to be offering any megabucks contracts this winter in free agency. Could that change? I guess so, but it sure doesn’t seem to be the case. While some fans seem to think the reason for that could be owner Peter Angelos, last

Quick comment from Boras

After Scott Boras held court tonight at the winter meetings with Washington reporters about the Jayson Werth signing, he briefly answered another question or two before exiting stage left. I asked him if Baltimore was a possibility for his client Carlos Pena? “I don’t see why not,” Boras said. “I mean he’s an AL East player and has done well there and likes to play

MacPhail’s take on offering a big contract & Koji

Among the topics O’s president Andy MacPhail addressed tonight in a meeting with reporters here at the winter meetings, is the prospect of the O’s offering a big contract to a free agent. I asked him if considering the 13 consecutive losing seasons, aren’t the O’s in a position now where they simply have to overpay to get a top talent, even if that contract

MacPhail updates coming

O’s president Andy MacPhail is scheduled to meet with reporters here at the Winter Meetings in Orlando in about a half hour. Roch and myself will both be there with any updates from that briefing. If there wasn’t enough fan pressure on the Orioles before today, it just got ratcheted up when the Nationals signed Jason Werth, an O’s first-round pick in 1997, to a

Two O’s hurlers leave winter ball, Minor likely back at Delmarva

Two pitchers from the Orioles minor leagues have left their winter ball teams. Pedro Beato is no longer pitching with Licey in the Dominican and Raul Rivero has left the Lara club in Venezuela. Beato, the O’s second pick in the 2006 draft, the 32nd overall, pitched in just two games in the Dominican and gave up three runs and two hits over 1 2/3

Pondering a few questions

With yesterday’s, let’s say, passionate fan reaction to the O’s losing out on Adam Dunn, after they had earlier lost out on Victor Martinez, some are left wondering what the O’s now will do at first base. We should remember that is just one of the areas the O’s need to address. Here are some other questions/issues they have to answer. *Is Mark Reynolds their

Did the O’s really miss that badly on Dunn?

A Baltimore Sun report, citing an industry source, said the O’s offered Adam Dunn a four-year deal worth $40 million. Dunn reportedly signed for $56 million over four years with the White Sox, who now may also retain Paul Konerko. Yes, we are all thinking the same thing here. If those reports are accurate, the O’s missed by a mile. If both reports are on

Weighing Konerko vs. Pena

Two of the players that must be high on the O’s list as possible first baseman for 2011 are Paul Konerko and Carlos Pena. By now, the O’s must have had discussions with both and, according to one report, have offered a deal to Konerko. The decisions the club would have to make in choosing between those two and others would have a lot to

The offseason plan for Matt Hobgood

After the Orioles’ organizational meetings in Arizona ended last month, O’s minor league pitching coordinator Dave Schmidt watched some O’s pitchers work in some AFL games and then he headed for California. He spent some time with Matt Hobgood, the O’s top pick in the 2009 draft, who went 3-7, 4.40 in 94 innings last year with the Delmarva Shorebirds. Hobgood dealt some with back

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