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A special FanFest “Mo-ment” and other notes

Regular listeners to the Orioles’ flagship radio station, 105.7 FM The Fan in Baltimore, certainly know the youngster’s voice. They surely know his knowledge of and passion for Baltimore sports. And they are certainly familiar with that wonderful laugh. But a few hundred fans got to see and meet 11-year-old Mo in person on stage Saturday at FanFest. Everyone in the room cheered loudly when

Checking in with the pitching coaches and Rule 5 picks at FanFest

For the first time since the 2013 season, the Orioles will have a new pitching coach this year with Roger McDowell replacing Dave Wallace. Before the 2006 season, McDowell replaced Leo Mazzone as Atlanta Braves pitching coach. Over the next 11 seasons, the Braves staff went 905-876 and ranked fourth among major league clubs with a 3.88 ERA, including a 3.58 ERA posted by relievers,

FanFest notes and quotes from Showalter, Trumbo, Hardy and more

Every year ,FanFest provides an opportunity for a day-long event where the Orioles’ loyal fans get to show the team yet again just how loyal they are and how much they love their team. More than 15,000 did just that Saturday. But that goes both ways, manager Buck Showalter said. For him, FanFest provided a chance to reunite both with the players he leads and

Bundy on possible return of his cutter (plus Mancini on Trumbo)

The cutter/slider could make a return for right-hander Dylan Bundy in the 2017 season. Bundy said it will, at least during spring training. “I’ve been throwing it for about two weeks now and so far it feels great,” Bundy said this afternoon at FanFest. “I’m not throwing it at full speed or anything right now, but it is feeling good. I’ll bring it into spring,

Showalter on Bundy’s innings, Tillman on his right shoulder

Buck Showalter didn’t sound like a big fan of innings limits today - at least one for young right-hander Dylan Bundy, who pitched 109 2/3 innings for the Orioles last season over 34 games that included 16 starts. Showalter answered, “Yes,” when asked if Bundy has enough innings this year to pitch in the starting rotation for the entire season. “Anyone is going to put

Wright’s offseason focused on mental aspects of game

As he gets ready to head to another spring training and tries to make the Orioles’ opening day roster, right-hander Mike Wright said today at FanFest he’s worked more this winter on the mental aspects of the game than anything that has to do with a fastball or breaking ball. “Every year, you are trying to get better with your mechanics and with your pitches,

Manny Machado, Zach Britton on possible contract extension talks

Two Orioles All-Stars said again today at FanFest that they’d like to sign long-term contracts with the team. But both third baseman Manny Machado and closer Zach Britton also said it has been quiet on that front so far this winter. Machado, who like Britton can be a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, was asked if he expects some contract-extension talks

Mark Trumbo on one stat he’d like to improve

Did the ears of some Orioles fans perk up when Mark Trumbo spoke yesterday about improving his plate discipline? The Orioles’ plate discipline and stats like team on-base percentage provide an ongoing discussion topic for fans every year it seems. They want more on-base percentage from their team and its lineup. I’m pretty sure Trumbo is not talking about making any dramatic changes. He is

Dan Duquette on Mark Trumbo’s return to the Orioles

After a winter of rumors and speculation, and reports that offers were on and off the table, Mark Trumbo is back where he said he wanted to be all along. The Orioles officially welcomed Trumbo back at a Camden Yards press conference this afternoon. He agreed to a three-year deal for $37.5 million on Jan. 19. Trumbo had a 2016 season where he hit .256/.316/.533

The Mancini decision: Has he graduated from the minors?

Among many questions the Orioles have to answer once spring training starts is just where first baseman Trey Mancini will be on opening day. Is he going to make the roster or head back to the minors again to start 2017? Until the Orioles re-signed Mark Trumbo, both vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter expressed plenty of confidence in Mancini, and it looked

A look at the World Baseball Classic

It’s real baseball before opening day. The games count and they keep the standings. A champion will be crowned. All-Stars will take the field. Several Orioles will as well. Will this be the year that Team USA wins the World Baseball Classic? In three previous tries, the United States team made the semi-finals just once and has never played in the championship game. The fourth

Is Brad Brach too valuable to trade?

Even Dan Duquette’s constant message board critics would have a hard time finding anything wrong with a deal he made on Nov. 25, 2013. Duquette traded minor league right-hander Devin Jones to San Diego for reliever Brad Brach. While Brach has had three very solid seasons in the Orioles bullpen - and was an All-Star last year - Jones never advanced beyond Double-A. He was

In weak pitching market, former Oriole Jason Hammel remains available

After the Orioles’ re-signing of free agent Mark Trumbo, their payroll for 20 players now signed for 2017 is in the $154 million range. That would seem to make it unlikely the club would pursue former Oriole Jason Hammel, a right-handed starter still out there among the remaining free agents. That and the fact the Orioles would be back at six starters for five spots

A check on projected homegrown starting pitchers in MLB

So with two Orioles’ first-round draft picks in Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy in their projected starting rotation, how do the Birds fare against the rest of the majors in producing homegrown starters? For this story, we define a homegrown starter as a pitcher that was drafted and developed or originally signed as an international amateur by the club it now starts for. We are

Catcher talk: Sisco ranked, Wieters waits

We may have gotten further evidence recently that the No. 1 Orioles prospect Chance Sisco is going to be a national top 100 prospect as well when new rankings come out. MLBPipeline.com ranked Sisco as the No. 5 catching prospect in baseball. Sisco is likely to be the only Oriole to make some of these top 100 lists, but that will be one more than

Remembering the Earl of Baltimore

A sad anniversary passed on Thursday with little notice. It was on that date - Jan. 19, 2013 - when the greatest manager in Orioles history, Earl Weaver, died. It happened on the morning of FanFest that year. If you ask any longtime Orioles fan to name the organization’s all-time greats, they won’t get very far before mentioning the Earl of Baltimore. He never played

A look at Mark Trumbo’s impact on the lineup, payroll and more

So what now for the Orioles after their contract agreement yesterday with slugger Mark Trumbo? How does his return impact the payroll, other players and the lineup? The payroll: When I published this story recently, the Orioles payroll was at $141.1 million for 19 players with salaries set for 2017 (or close to set pending arbitration). We don’t yet know the club’s obligation to Trumbo

A take on Mark Trumbo’s return

In the end, the deal just simply must have been too good for the Orioles to pass up. They were able to agree to re-sign Mark Trumbo, the major league home run leader, for a three-year deal worth $37.5 million, according to FanRag Sports. That is $37.5 million for a player that began free agency reportedly seeking $70 million or more and who reportedly turned

Will there be a Moose call to the Hall? (plus organizational rankings)

If Jim Palmer is a Hall of Famer, then former Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina should be in the Hall as well, in my opinion. Palmer: 268 wins, 125 ERA+, 1.180 WHIP, three Cy Young Awards Mussina: 270 wins, 123 ERA+, 1.192 WHIP, zero Cy Young Awards Palmer was an eight-time 20-game winner to just once for Mussina. But Palmer also got more chances for wins,

No surprise: O’s pass on Jose Bautista (plus other notes)

In the end, just as expected, the Orioles did not sign Jose Bautista. He agreed to a new deal with the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, one that will pay him $18 million for the 2017 season. Bautista will have a mutual option for the 2018 season and a vesting option for the 2019 season, according to Yahoo Sports. The maximum value of the deal, if

After his 6.17 ERA, fan expectations are low for Wade Miley

The Orioles’ trio of veteran starting pitchers was reduced to the duo of Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley after Yovani Gallardo was traded to Seattle for outfielder Seth Smith. The Orioles sent one starting pitcher to Seattle after acquiring one from Seattle at the trade deadline last year. The addition then was left-hander Miley, who certainly has a better resume than what O’s fans saw

A look at some positional rankings, plus other notes

Orioles closer Zach Britton is the top reliever in Major League Baseball. That was how ESPN’s Buster Olney sized them up in his latest top 10 player and positional rankings. As great as Britton was in 2016, this was not a total slam dunk. Cleveland’s Andrew Miller finished second, and while Britton got him in ERA (0.54 to 1.45), Miller topped Britton in WHIP (0.686

Preseason edition: “10 Questions for O’s Fans”

Is it that time already? “Why not?” an Orioles team once said. It’s time for the latest edition of “10 Questions for O’s Fans. 1. We’ll do this again when opening day rosters are set, but based on how they look now, predict the finish in the American League East. 2. How many saves will Zach Britton have next season? 3. How many doubles and

Another look at the 2017 payroll

After the Orioles agreed to 2017 contracts with five players this week, avoiding possible arbitration hearings, their 2017 payroll is continuing to take shape. It is not dramatically different from before these agreements, since projections put the payroll in the same ballpark now as it was, say, a week ago. Locked-in dollars for 2017: $17 million - Chris Davis $16.3 million - Adam Jones $14

No love for the longball? (plus another Trumbo take)

There is a saying in baseball that “chicks dig the longball.” It seems there are some Orioles fans who would say those women need to take a closer look at things. When the Orioles’ prolific home run numbers were mentioned in Thursday’s blog, it touched off some comments that have become commonplace here. Such as: “Yes, but they didn’t get to the World Series.” “Why

Checking in with a few facts and opinions

Today, I will be presenting some Orioles facts and opinions about those facts in this space. Then, as usual, I hope you add to the discussion in the comments section. Fact: An Oriole has led the American League (and the majors) in homers for four straight years. Chris Davis hit 53 in 2013, Nelson Cruz hit 40 in 2014, Davis hit 47 in 2015 and

Notes on Mark Trumbo, Chris Lee and Michael Bourn

When it comes to free agents, looks can deceive and there are always surprises. But the current thinking is that 2016 Oriole Mark Trumbo will be with another team in 2017. Were Dan Duquette’s recent comments confirmation of that? Overanalyzing any GM’s comments at any time can be risky, but Duquette said Sunday on MLB Network Radio: “We kind of like the value of that

Will the Orioles improve against left-handed pitching in 2017?

The Orioles struggled to hit left-handed pitching last season, ranking last in the American League in batting average, slugging and OPS against southpaws. At a time when they could see a few lefties in the AL East starting in April, they will need to improve those numbers. As a team, the Orioles hit .234/.301/.391 against left-handers last season, ranking 15th, 14th and 15th among all

A look at both first-pitch swings and working counts, plus links

It would probably not surprise an Orioles fan to know that their team was among the American League leaders in number of times swinging at the first pitch of an at-bat last season. It might surprise to know they fared pretty well at it. In 2016, Orioles hitters swung at the first pitch 30.6 percent of the time, trailing only Houston at 34.7 percent and

Outfield platoon talk

How many platoon spots in the outfield are too many? Right now, the Orioles appear headed for platoon situations in both left and right field. That is probably fine, since the only other lineup spot looking at a potential platoon is designated hitter, pending how the rest of the offseason goes with signings and/or acquisitions. Going by the 2016 statistics, the Orioles ranked below average

A few ramifications of the Seth Smith trade

The Orioles made a nice addition on Friday. They added a lefty-hitting corner outfielder with solid numbers against right-handed pitching and one that could upgrade their team on-base percentage. They acquired 34-year-old Seth Smith from the Seattle Mariners for right-handed starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations. So what happens now and how does that deal impact the outfield, lineup and rotation moving forward? Smith

O’s add outfielder, subtract pitcher in Smith-for-Gallardo trade

In one trade this afternoon, the Orioles added a corner outfielder and solved their six-for-five starting rotation problem. They acquired Seth Smith from Seattle for right-hander Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations. Both players had one year remaining on their contracts, although the Orioles held a 2018 option on Gallardo. Smith signed an extension with Seattle in July 2014 that paid him $6 million in 2015

Still looking for outfielders, as some names come off the board

It can be easy to feel that time is running out on the Orioles to add an outfielder now that the calender has flipped to 2017. But while there is still plenty of time to make an addition or two, several outfielders have come of the board. When the free agent season began, the Orioles were certainly unlikely to pursue the bigger dollar options and

It’s been a very different offseason for free agent spending

You don’t have to look very long and hard to figure out that teams are spending much less on free agents this year throughout baseball. But that doesn’t mean teams are curtailing their spending, as much as the crop of players is very different from year to year. Last winter, 10 free agents signed for total dollars of $80 million or more. This winter, just

Prospect profile: Brian Gonzalez made solid improvements in 2016

In the minor leagues, sometimes a young player has to repeat a level to improve. That was the case in the 2016 season for Orioles left-handed pitching prospect Brian Gonzalez. A third-round pick (No. 90 overall) in the 2014 draft, Gonzalez pitched at Single-A Delmarva in 2015 at 19. He went 4-9 with a 5.71 ERA. Last season, back again with the Shorebirds at 20,

Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman provide hope for future rotations

At a time when the Orioles farm system gets plenty of criticism, the organization also may be heading into a near future with two first-round draft picks heading up its starting rotation. Perhaps for many years to come. The Orioles drafted right-hander Dylan Bundy No. 4 overall out of Owassa (Okla.) High School in 2011. He was the last first-round pick by scouting director Joe

The Orioles may have to move on from Mark Trumbo

For free agent Mark Trumbo, the new year begins with old questions: Will he be an Oriole in 2017? If not Baltimore, where does he end up? And at what price? Trumbo turned down the Orioles’ qualifying offer. They then made him at least one four-year offer that was reported to be in the $52 million range. While that seemed low, it seems more in

For starters, another look at the rotation

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Orioles will go as far as their rotation will take them. We seem to say it about every year and it’s pretty much true just about every year. So on the first day of 2017, let’s say it here for the first of many times it will said and written, both before and during next season.

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