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Pondering a few questions as spring training gets close

The start of spring training is getting close for the Orioles. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12, the first full-squad workout is Feb. 18 and the first game is set for Feb. 23. Opening day is March 28 at Yankee Stadium and a new season will be officially underway. With all this fast approaching there are still plenty of unanswered questions for the 2019

After strong Double-A year, Ryan Mountcastle is closer to the majors

Many Orioles fans were not happy when the team failed to re-sign free agent slugger Nelson Cruz after his big 2014 season in Baltimore. It was a year where he led the majors in homers and the Orioles fell one step shy of the World Series. It was hard for fans to see Cruz go. The Orioles’ consolation prize at the time was a compensatory

So how did pitcher Dean Kremer get all of those strikeouts?

As Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias told us last week in this interview, one key stat to help size up pitching prospects is strikeouts. Elias believes that stat can show dominance and tell us much about a pitcher’s ability. Said Elias: “It just speaks to the quality of your stuff and the quality of your skill relative to your competitors. It’s

With renewed confidence, Chance Sisco is ready to attack 2019

Coming off a season where he posted the worst offensive numbers of his pro career, it would seem Chance Sisco’s goal for the 2019 season is lofty. But as he rebuilds his confidence and hopefully finds his previous batting stroke, he feels it is reachable. “Obviously, I want to be the starting catcher,” Sisco said during a FanFest interview. “Who doesn’t want to be a

FanFest follow-up: Notes and quotes with Hyde, Davis, McKenna, Mountcastle and Hall

Young players on the Orioles will be getting some on-the-job training in 2019. It’s been said of prospects in baseball that many truly finish their development only when they get to the majors. New Orioles manager Brandon Hyde concurs and expects some of that to be happening with players on his first team in Baltimore. “I think it’s not just us,” Hyde said. “Players are

Hunter Harvey said he feels healthy and ready for the new season

Orioles right-hander Hunter Harvey is feeling healthy and ready to start the 2019 season. Certainly, knock on wood when you say that. Several physical ailments, including Tommy John surgery and later elbow, shoulder and forearm issues at various times, have limited him in recent seasons. Harvey posted a 5.57 ERA in nine starts for Double-A Bowie in 2018 and threw 32 1/3 innings. He’s pitched

Hearing from Kline, Scott and Tate at FanFest

Right-handed reliever Branden Kline, from Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md., heard about FanFest plenty of times as a kid, but never made it here. Today he did for the first time as a member of the Orioles’ 40-man roster. Kline produced a strong 2018 season between Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie and was added to the 40 on Oct. 30. He’ll head to

O’s right-hander Dylan Bundy on his 2018 and more at FanFest

Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy did both some looking back and some looking forward when he was interviewed by reporters today at FanFest. Bundy said he’s talked a few times to new manager Brandon Hyde and new pitching coach Doug Brocail. He got to see both in person last night. A reporter suggested that the starting rotation is a bit of mystery heading into training camp.

Yastrzemski heading to spring training, O’s in Australia and Mussina’s plaque

It was a bit of a surprise for me yesterday to see outfielder Mike Yastrzemski’s name among the 18 Orioles non-roster invitees to spring training. It will be his first time joining those on the 40-man roster in big league camp. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12 and the first spring game is Feb. 23. Yastrzemski has always had a lot of support from

Let’s talk pitching: The Mike Elias Q&A, Part II

Here is the second part of the interview with Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias on the minors and player development. If you missed part one, it’s here. Today, a little more focus on pitching. The organization Elias left, the Houston Astros, has a strong reputation for developing young pitchers. On Houston’s current top 30 prospects list on MLBPipeline.com, four of the

Elias with Q&A on player development and the farm

If he wants to develop that “elite talent pipeline” to build the Orioles from a 115-loss club into one that can one day win a championship, player development and the minor leagues will be critical for Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias. Elias provided this quote on that topic during the Winter Meetings: “This is an area, scouting and player development, where

The trip started in Montoursville and will end up in Cooperstown

When Mike Mussina made it to Cooperstown on his sixth try last night, he also became the 23rd player, coach or front office executive with modern-day ties to the Baltimore Orioles to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. After playing 10 seasons with the Orioles and eight for the New York Yankees, Mussina made it clear in two separate interviews last night

Cooperstown call: Mike Mussina elected to the Hall of Fame

Right-hander Mike Mussina, drafted in the first round by Baltimore in 1990 and an Oriole the first 10 years of his big league career, was tonight voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Mussina got 76.7 percent of the vote, making the Hall in his sixth year of eligibility. In his first year of eligibility in 2014, Mussina got just 20.3

A few more thoughts on the Hall of Fame

A few more takes and opinions on the Hall of Fame, ahead of the announcement of the latest balloting to get to Cooperstown to be revealed live tonight on MLB Network sometime around 6 p.m. Will we finally have a unanimous selection?: This seems possible actually. In 2016, Ken Griffey Jr. missed by just three votes, getting 437 of 440 votes. If Griffey came that

O’s David Hess rode one big pitch to a strong 2018 finish

Can one pitch turn around a season? For Orioles right-hander David Hess, that may be exactly what happened on one he threw last Aug. 17 in Cleveland. Hess was making his 12th of the 19 starts during the 2018 season. He had allowed a two-run homer in the first inning and was in more trouble in the last of the third. With two outs, he

Mike Mussina is potentially closing in on a call to the Hall

Will the sixth time be the charm for former Orioles and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina? Is his call to the Hall of Fame coming on Tuesday? He’s already an Orioles Hall of Famer, inducted in August 2012, and now it seems the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., may be calling. Finally. Without throwing a pitch, Mussina has become more popular with the

Chris Archer’s strong take on the Hall of Fame vote

Former Tampa Bay Ray and current Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chris Archer had a strong take yesterday on players eligible for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. If you ever failed a test, got suspended, or admitted to using performance enhancers you should NOT be in the hall of fame. No hard feelings but you disgraced the integrity of the game,

Some props for Doug Brocail, expected to be O’s pitching coach

The Orioles are expected to hire Doug Brocail as their next pitching coach. The club however, has not yet officially announced the addition of any coaches for new manager Brandon Hyde. But Brocail’s anticipated addition drew some praise this week. The 51-year-old former big league pitcher worked in the Houston organization from 2010 through 2015 and was the Astros’ major league pitching coach from June

How many top 100 prospects for the Orioles?

The new lists of top 100 prospects in baseball will be released soon by several national outlets including Baseball America, MLBPipeline.com, ESPN and others. Last year, on the Baseball America list, the Orioles had three players ranked for just the second time since 2013. They had a list of three after the 2014 and 2018 seasons. Here is a look back at the Orioles on

For fans tracking Machado and Harper, fatigue or intrigue?

So when will teams start spending the “stupid” money? When will the saga of free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper come to an end? Where will they end up and could the Chicago White Sox actually wind up with Machado? So far, the free agency of the dynamic duo is not living up the hype. And this has been hyped for literally years. Hype

Defense and pitching: Could the first make the second better for the Orioles?

We certainly know that Orioles pitchers didn’t collectively do very well in the 2018 season. Baltimore ranked last in the American League with a team ERA of 5.18, well over the league average of 4.27. The starters’ ERA ranked last in the league at 5.48, with the AL average at 4.39. The bullpen ERA was 4.78 to rank 14th and above the league norm of

Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman remains atop draft boards

Baseball America recently released its list of the top 100 prospects available for the First-Year Player Draft in June and Oregon State switch-hitting catcher Adley Rutschman is No. 1. Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is No. 2. That is the same top two that we saw on MLBPipeline.com’s list. For just the second time in Orioles history, the club will make the overall

How will the O’s handle their catchers in 2019?

The Orioles’ current catching situation shows Austin Wynns and Chance Sisco on the 40-man roster and recent addition Carlos PĂ©rez and holdover Martin Cervenka as two of the top catchers on the farm. Andrew Susac was designated for assignment on Friday. That leaves the team pretty thin at the position right now, with not much big league experience on the roster. Can the Orioles get

A look at Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and Jonathan Villar after contract agreements

If he made a list of goals for the 2019 season, avoiding any arbitration hearings would be well down the list for Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias. But it’s nice anyway for the first-year GM to avoid hearings and he will accomplish that after reaching agreements with three arbitration-eligible players yesterday. The O’s came to terms with pitchers Dylan Bundy and

The 2019 season provides a chance to fully evaluate Mullins

He was the Orioles’ 13th round draft pick out of Campbell University in 2015. He showed such promise playing in 2016 at Single-A Delmarva and in spring training chances with the Orioles the following March that he skipped Single-A Frederick and went right to Double-A Bowie to begin the 2017 season. Outfielder Cedric Mullins was on a fast track, one that would take him to

Will Orioles fans find new ways to analyze a season in 2019?

According to one preseason listing of those over and under wins totals used mostly for wagering purposes, the Orioles’ win total for 2019 is put at 59. That would be 12 more victories than in 2018, but would also mean 103 losses are coming our way. But such lines are crafted to induce equal wagering on either side, and public perception factors in here. And

A look at a few possible back-end rotation additions

If, as it is said, you can never have enough pitching, maybe the Orioles need to consider adding a free agent starter on a one-year deal to eat some innings and help the 2019 rotation. I’ve written before that I’m mostly not on board with adding a pitcher and am just fine with seeing young pitchers fill out the final two rotation spots. That is

A look at one way where Dylan Bundy can get back on track

Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy was a slightly better than league average pitcher in 2016 and 2017, but not in 2018. Last year, he went 8-16 with a 5.45 ERA in 31 starts. While he set career highs in innings, strikeouts, strikeout rate and starts, he also set career highs in homers allowed and tied for the major league lead in losses. The 41 homers allowed

O’s fans have had time to prep for their players finding new homes

Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day are in Atlanta. Jonathan Schoop is now in Minnesota. Zach Britton is headed back to the Bronx and Manny Machado is on deck. Adam Jones is very likely moving on as well. There seemed to be little consternation around Birdland when Britton agreed to re-sign with the Yankees over the weekend. This could be for several reasons, including that Orioles

Week in review: Talking Chris Davis, 2019 success and Britton’s new deal

In looking back at the last week on this blog, we got into a few interesting topics and will revisit a few today. Your takes and comments on these topics are very welcome. On Monday, we took yet another look at Chris Davis. He’s firmly in the doghouse of fans around Birdland after his struggles hit a new low in 2018. Last season, Davis hit

Does a rebuild provide a chance for creativity for the Orioles?

The 2019 season may well provide the Orioles with plenty of chances to do different things and make unconventional moves. In a rebuilding season where many losses are expected, why not? What if the Orioles decide to sometimes use an opener on the mound, but have that player try to pitch three innings rather than one? Bring the starter in to begin the fourth and

More on the Orioles and their pursuit of international talent

The hiring this week of Koby Perez as the Orioles’ senior director of international scouting is the latest step forward for the organization on the international front. For years, the club just didn’t do nearly enough in this market, and it hurt the team in numerous ways. Baltimore lacked in producing international talent. Hopefully, those days are over, although certainly it will take years for

O’s new head of international scouting on staffing, signing talent and more

In his first interview with Orioles reporters, Koby Perez, the club’s new senior director of international scouting, discussed building a staff and building relationships that will lead to the addition of key young amateur talent from around the world. Under the current system in place, all teams get a similar amount to spend via their bonus pool. So that can make it challenging for a

Maximizing service time and a Machado take

Former Orioles baseball operations leader Andy MacPhail once stated that it’s better to call up a prospect a month too late rather than a month too soon. The new management of the Orioles may look to adhere to that philosophy. And not just because they agree with MacPhail. Maybe because it makes good business sense. At a time when fans seem excited to see young

The measure of success in 2019

It’s a good question. What represents success for the 2019 Orioles? Is it a certain number of wins or something else? Can it even be quantified? Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was asked that question at the Winter Meetings. “I want to improve the aggregate talent base of this organization, and that’s going to come in the form of additions to

As the Orioles embrace analytics, their fans don’t have to

As the calendar turns to 2019 today, this will be the year the Orioles embrace analytics. They had better, because that is the background of their new executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias. His first hire was Sig Mejdal, named the club’s assistant general manager, analytics. New manager Brandon Hyde is very much on board with his front office. No longer should we

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