Cleat Geeks

Baltimore Orioles, Where Have You Gone?

Since about 1972 or so I have been following The Orioles. I remember well 1979 and why I still can’t stand Willie Stargell or The Pirates, 1983 with a dominant World Series performance, or the Why Not Season. Also, Buck brought us back to a measure of competitiveness in the last few years.

However, this season has been hard to endure and fathom. I cannot imagine that the team will resemble anything close to the current product in 2019. I don’t blame Buck, although some of his hard headed decisions (if they are his) can be called into question.

Image result for buck showalter orioles

Photo by; For The Win

Money wasted and misapplied can be put under the microscope, players either past their prime, failing to match past outputs or generally not MLB material abound. Pitching remains awful, even with the infusion of some stars from other teams.

The product is awful, especially at the cost to see it live.

I look forward to Spring Training, but I would like it to begin without Duquette, who I think is a joke. I would love for Buck to be here, perhaps as the new GM? As far as manager, no idea. All I can say is that whoever it is will need more weapons, MLB caliber pitching and a real plan for the future. All of that is missing now.

Orioles Bird Feed; What Does The Future Hold?

This season has brought us historical ineptitude from The Orioles, across all positions and players. Staring at the standings, wins/losses and basement dwelling performance is numbing to the mind.

So, what does the future really hold for this team, management and fans expectations?

According to Dan Duquette, they are, in fact, rebuilding. The problem is, Dan is connected closely to Angelos (team owner) and usually speaks from a cue card he is given. Dan went missing during the weeks of decline where Orioles fans were left wondering if this might be the worst team to run onto an MLB field?

Image result for dan duquette orioles

In recent weeks, we have seen the exodus of Machado, Britton and Brach, with the “promise” of some high-end prospects and building for the future. In the case of Brach, the Orioles actually received an International draft spot, so no physical player was involved at the time of trade.

At the recent meeting of “State of the Orioles”, Duquette stated “I would expect the club would take the payroll down next year and the year after and reinvest those resources in younger ballplayers,” So, that really sounds like a two season rebuild, at a minimum.

Thus far, The Orioles have received eight (8) prospects in the various trades. Again, quoting Duquette “We should be able to do that and get back to competitiveness.” They have received OF Yusniel Diaz, RHP Dean Kremer, IF Rylan Bannon, RHP Zach Pop, IF Breyvic Valera, RHP Dillon Tate, LHP Josh Rogers, and RHP Cody Carroll.

The future of both Duquette and Showalter (manager) is also in question. Personally, I find Duquette to be mentally absent at times and dull in the public eye. He might be a good “baseball man” but he always seems to be an extension of Angelos, and nothing more.

Buck deserves better support from both players and management. He is still one of the best and simply has a roster of either minor league talent or gross underachievers.

Image result for jonathan schoop

Photo by; Baseball Essentials

Much faith has been lost in “building around” Jonathan Schoop, given his complete collapse this season. More time has been spent talking about this emotional state with the loss of Machado instead of his performance on the field. Friends change teams all the time, that should not be the focus here.

Personally, I expected about 85 wins this season…that dream was gone in May! While I due respect the moves that have been made thus far, I still fear that there are teams out there that work the trade process better than The Orioles. In most scenarios, only time will tell.

In 2019, there will be a “new look” Orioles team. Younger players, less money and management staff TBD….not sure that is worthy of optimism, fear or both.

Who Will Win The Machado Sweepstakes?

I am planning on doing a few of these pieces between now and the July 31st trade deadline. For the first article I am going to conquer perhaps the biggest name, but also the easiest at the same time. Let me explain why Manny Machado is both.

What Manny Brings

As of the research for this writing Machado is batting .309 with a .379 on base percentage and a .558 slugging percentage. These three numbers are each better than in any full season of his career. Plus, the most home runs he has ever hit in a single season is 37. He is currently more than halfway to that mark this season with 21 to go along with his 107 hits 60 RBI’s and 7 stolen bases. But all these statistics lead to a very interesting question. With all of these numbers being a first for Manny, and the way teams are now evaluating players, accompanied with the way the free agent market took a downward turn for the players this past off-season. Are they numbers that are going to warrant a 5-7 year $150-200 million dollar commitment from any team? Whoever trades for him is giving up a part of their future to acquire him. If it is a deal like the Diamondbacks made for J.D. Martinez last season, where a team only has to give up two marginal prospects, that is a different story. But, Baltimore seems to want more than that.

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He needs to do well on offense, because his defense is actually declining despite his reputation. I am going to get somewhat technical here on stats, so if you are not a stat person, just jump to final sentence of this paragraph. According to baseball-refference.com the highlight reel we are accustom to seeing from Machado would be short this season. His Rtot (total zone total fielding runs above average) or the number of runs above or below average a player is worth based on the number of defensive chances the player has is at -13. His Rdrs (defensive runs saved above average) or how many runs he has saved compared to the average shortstop is -19. Plus, his Rdrs/yr (defensive runs saved on average per 1,200 innings) is at a whopping -30. All of these are career lows, and they are severe career lows. He does own a .978 fielding percentage, which sounds good until you look up the fact that the average shortstop this season has a .972 fielding percentage and you realize he is .006 percentage points better than the average shortstop.

Who Are The Players?

Manny is a major piece, and will take another teams major prospect to land, possibly a few fringe prospects as well. Plus if the team who trades for him wants to keep him beyond this season it will take, as mentioned above, a major contract to keep him. Therefore, you have eliminated over half of the teams in MLB right off the bat. Each league only has 5 teams who are going to make the play-offs. In the American league we basically already know who those teams are going to be; Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Cleveland and Seattle. The Angels and Tampa are trying to hang around, and the sudden surge of the Oakland Athletics winning 17 of their last 21 games and finding themselves 11 games over .500 is nice, but in reality they are still the third best team in that division and 6 games out of the final Wild Card spot. What do those 5 top teams have in common? They all have established shortstops. Would Manny move back to third base? He might, but those teams already have third baseman as well with the Yankees, Astros and Red Sox all having young third baseman who are proving themselves worthy. This is the reason Machado is both the biggest and the easiest, only a few teams from one league really make sense.

The national League is a different story because the play-off teams are not so defined. The teams with legitament play-off shots are; the Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Nationals. Phillies and possibly the Cardinals. Of these teams you can eliminate the Braves, Nationals, and Cardinals. I also think you can eliminate the Cubs with their current combination of Russell, Biaz and Zobrist. So now you are down to 4 NL teams.

The Final Four

I think the Phillies are the longest shot here. They have Crawford and Kingery. But since they have money to spend, they would be smarter going after him this off-season and not give up any young prospects for him.

I keep reading and hearing the Dodgers are this race. I don’t think they are. They don’t want to go over the Luxury tax again, and he would truly be a rental for them. They have Turner at 3rd base and Segar at shortstop. I know he is hurt, but he will be back next season. I don’t see them parting ways with a top prospect for a few month rental that buts them over the Luxury tax.

The Brewers are an interesting case. They have Jonathan Villar and they got Tyler Saladino from the White Sox. Neither of them are All-Stars but together they are serviceable. Plus, they have Orlando Arcia on the Triple A MLB bus this season. This season he is only hitting .197 but he has a .247 career batting average and he is only 23 years old. I think it depends on where they see his growth and potential as to if they will simply check in on Manny or go all in on Manny.

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Photo by; ABC7 Chicago

I think the winner of the Machado sweepstakes will be the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their starting shortstop, while living up to his nickname of “slick nick” is great defensivly, he is batting .226. They could also slide Manny over to third base against a lefty giving Lamb a rest and have Nick start at shortstop. They have a decent pitching staff at the major league level with Buchholtz for this year, Walker for next year and Shipley for the future. Therefore they will trade Matt Koch and 1B Kevin Cron, whose power screams DH, to the Orioles in exchange for Manny Machado.

 

 

AL All-Star Position Preview: Shortstop

You all know the common saying: “Another day, another All-Star game position preview” right? Maybe that’s just me. Alas, whether people are reading these or not, I have truly enjoyed writing this series. You get a good perspective of just how disrespected some guys are and how they must feel.

However, the shortstop position in the AL is different. I mean the position is absolutely STACKED. I am actually upset I can’t talk about at least five of these guys (I might pull an audible and do it anyway). A lot of these players are appointment television like Manny Machado, who is certainly the only reason people are watching the Orioles right now (certainly not Chris Davis, SHEESH).

Current NL Fan Vote:

Manny Machado

Carlos Correa

Francisco Lindor

Didi Gregorius

Jean Segura

Starter: Francisco Lindor

The fact that Lindor is third in fan voting right now is criminal. Lindor is slashing .290/.362/.529 with an .891 OPS. He ranks 10th in home runs and OPS with 16 and .891 respectively. He is third in runs, fifth in total bases, and 6th in both total bases and runs created.

To me, these things don’t put Lindor over the top for the clear AL starter. Having been a previous Gold Glove recipient, Lindor’s defense is elite, especially at such an important position. Being poor defensively can sometimes be masked in the outfield. At shortstop, however, sheer volume exposes any defensive weaknesses. Lindor has very few. With a reliability on offense and defense while also having an MVP caliber season makes him the best shortstop in the American League. The question is, who falls behind him?

Bench Spot 1: Jean Segura

I’d like to say Segura is having a breakout season, but the Mariners finally being good might just be why people are starting to pay attention. Segura is currently on his third season in a row hitting over .300, this year being the highest batting average of his career at .336. Segura is also slashing an impressive .336/.358.483 so although his home run numbers are down he is still hitting the ball hard. His ability to get on base has also turned into him scoring the second most runs (52) at the position behind Francisco Lindor (54).

I think he loses in fan voting due to his lack of home runs (4). Despite his low home run numbers, he has the most doubles per at-bat of his career, while only trailing only Machado in Correa in RBIs. Both of those guys have double-digit home runs, so what Segura is doing is impressive. He is putting the ball in play and bringing his guys. It helps that he has Dee Gordon, one of the fastest players in the majors, leading off in front of him.

Bench Spot 2: Manny Machado

We all knew how good Machado could be. When you talked about the future free agent, everyone was trying to put a number on how much his talent was worth. He has earned Gold Glove and All-Star game honors years ago. You knew that wasn’t his full potential. Now you are seeing it.

Machado is on quite honestly the worst team baseball has seen in a long time. Yet the slugger is having career highs in almost every statistical category. He hit 18 home runs (leads the position), brought in 53 runs (also leads the position), and is slashing a monstrous .305/.373/.559, all career highs.

If the Orioles don’t trade Machado by the deadline the entire front office should be fired. His value is not getting any higher and teams are only willing to pay so much to a guy who will be a free agent at the end of this season. Machado is a lock to make the All-Star game and I am not even mad about it. You can argue any of these guys at any one of these spots and I wouldn’t be upset. Machado gets a slight dip from me is because his defense has suffered, and that is one of his best assets.

Honorable Mentions:

Due to the fact that there are so many exceptional shortstops this season, I will briefly mention two players that deserve it.

Carlos Correa:

Correa certainly deserves to be in the All-Star game. He is slashing .270/.354/.492 with a 2.8 WAR. He is one of the premier players at the position and name value propels him over these other guys in fan voting. If you thought Correa deserves to be in the All-Star game I would not argue.

Didi Gregorius:

Didi has been hot and cold all year and I think that there are more deserving shortstops, but Gregorius certainly deserves mention. His defense has been reliable and his bat has been powerful at times, with his 14 home runs trailing only Machado and Lindor. Gregorius is on a hot streak as we speak but I do not expect him to make his first All-Star appearance due to the abundance of talent at the position.

 

The Call to the Majors, Week Ending June 20

June 14, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Chris Bassitt Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Carlos Ramirez Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Nick Rumbelow Pitcher Tacoma (AAA) Seattle (MLB)
Robert Whalen Pitcher Tacoma (AAA) Seattle (MLB)

 

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June 15, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Corban Joseph Infielder Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Tanner Scott Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Tyler White 1st Basemen Fresno (AAA) Houston (MLB)
Brandon Maurer Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Kyle Farmer C/Infielder Oklahoma (AAA) Los Angeles (NL) (MLB)
Jake Jewell Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Felix Pena Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Eduardo Paredes Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Merandy Gonzalez Pitcher Jacksonville (AA) Miami (MLB)
Taylor Motter INF/OF Rochester (AAA) Minnesota (MLB)
Jonathan Loaisiga Pitcher Trenton (AA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Luke Voit 1st Basemen Springfield (AA) St. Louis (MLB)
Jose Trevino Catcher Frisco (AA) Texas (MLB)
Brandon Mann Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)
Yohander Mendez Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

 

June 16, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
John Lamb Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Franklin Barreto Infielder Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Yacksel Rios Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jack Thompson Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Pierce Johnson Pitcher Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Ryan Rua Outfielder Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB

 

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Photo by; FanRag Sports

June 17, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Luke Jackson Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Shane Bieber Pitcher Columbus (AAA) Cleveland (MLB)
Evan Marshall Pitcher Columbus (AAA) Cleveland (MLB)
Wily Peralta Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Rosell Herrera Outfielder Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Adalberto Mondesi Infielder Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Scott Barlow Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Adrian Houser Pitcher Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Josh Lucas Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Yovani Gallardo Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

 

June 18, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Rob Zastryzny Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Clint Frazier Outfielder Scranton/Wilkes Barre(AAA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Austin Davis Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jose Osuna Outfielder Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburg (MLB)
Kelby Tomlinson 2nd Basemen Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Ricardo Rodriguez Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

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Photo by; McCovey Chronicle

June 19, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Caleb Joseph Catcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Robby Scott Pitcher Pawtucket (AAA) Boston (MLB)
Jackson Stephens Pitcher Louisville (AAA) Cincinnati (MLB)
Heath Filmyer Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Freddy Peralta Pitcher Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Tim Peterson Pitcher Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Pierce Johnson Pitcher Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Lourdes Gurriel 2nd Basemen Buffalo (AAA) Toronto (MLB)
Jefry Rodriguez Pitcher Syracuse (AAA) Washington (MLB)

 

June 20, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Johnny Barbato Pitcher Toldedo (AAA) Detroit (MLB)
Mitchell Walding Pitcher Leigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jake Barrett Pitcher Reno (AAA) Arizona (MLB)
Adam Frazier 2nd Basemen Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburg (MLB)

As you can see by the list, most of the players that were called up to the Major Leagues in the past week have been pitchers. A lot of the time, these are just one or two day call up’s because someone in the bullpen was overworked. There were no players called up this week that were in the top 50 prospects to begin the year.

 

Notable Performances:

Jonathan Loaisiga was called up to the major leagues on June 15th for the New York Yankees. Before he was called up, he pitched in six games in AA and four games in A ball this season. In Single-A Tampa, Loaisiga had a 3-0 record posting a dominate 1.35 ERA. Loaisiga performed just as well in AA for Trenton, posting a 3-1 record with a 4.32 ERA. Loaisiga made is MLB debut on the day he was called up, and he pitched a gem of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched 5 shutout innings allowing three hits, four walks, and struck out six. In Loaisiga’s second start on June 20 against the Seattle Mariners, he pitched 3.2 innings and he allowed 3 runs, on six hits while striking out four and walking two. His season ERA sits at 3.12, in the two games that he pitched.

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Photo by; New York Post

Lourdes Gurriel was called up again to the major leagues on June 19th for the Toronto Blue Jays. During his time in the minor leagues this season, both in Triple A Buffalo and Double A New Hampshire, Gurriel played in 39 games with a triple slash line of .307/.333/.490 with an OPS of .824 and six home runs. Playing up in the majors has not fared for the young Gurriel so far. He is posting a triple slash line of .206/.229/.309 in 20 games while also posting a .537 OPS and two home runs. Gurriel has shown that he can compete in the minors, now he is trying to show that he deserves to be up in the majors, and will hopefully be a part of the Toronto Blue Jays for years to come.

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Photo by SportsNet

A final notable call up for this week is another New York Yankee, and if you follow baseball you’ve heard his name before, outfielder Clint Frazier. There are rumors surrounding Frazier that he will either be a cornerstone of the Yankees outfield for years to come, or he is only being called up so he can audition for other MLB teams come the trade deadline. In 42 games in the minors this year, most of which at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Frazier has played in 42 games posting a triple slash line of .302/.387/.550 with an OPS of .937. Frazier has also added eight home runs to those eye opening numbers. With the call to the Majors, Frazier has played in 5 games this year with a triple slash line of .364/.533/.455 with an OPS of .988. Frazier has been playing well no matter where he goes. This doesn’t seem like a permanent move to Frazier, not yet at least, but sooner rather than later he will be off this list, and in the Majors for good.

Image result for clint frazier new york yankees

Photo by FanRag Sports

So that’s the Call to the Majors for this week fans. I hope you’ve enjoyed this segment, and hope you aren’t sitting by the phone waiting for your Call to the Majors, it may be a little farther out than some of the players in the Minors.

Orioles Bird Feed…Start of June 2018

Oriole’s fans came into 2018 with some guarded optimism. The season kicked off in decent fashion and hope remained alive for a fairly competitive product.

As of today, the downward spiral continues and we have resorted to idiotic quotes from lame duck Duquette to get us through another loss today.

The Orioles record on 6/3/18 is 17 Wins and 41 losses. Yes, that’s correct. A .293 winning percentage and 22.5 games out of first place….again, on June 3rd.

2-8 in their last 10 games and currently losers of 7 straight.

Image result for dana duquette orioles

Don’t know what to say here. This has been an absolute miserable season and is not even half over. The offense ranks at or near the bottom of most major statistical categories, the pitching is not horrendous, and it is quite a lot to ask a staff to keep the opposition to four runs or less, which is the apparent ceiling for the Orioles offensive capabilities.

This is painful. Duquette is invisible with the exception of a dumb and obvious quote from afar, and the rumors of Machado departure are the only relevance this team seems to have.

As a fan for 45+ years, this is a historically sad story, team and future.

 

 

Orioles Bird Feed May 4-12

There are some signs of life, finally!

May 4 Lost to A’s 6-4

May 5 Lost to A’s 2-0

May 6 Lost to A’s 2-1

May 7 Off

May 8 Lost to Royals 15-7

May 9 Beat Royals 5-3

May 10 Beat Royals 11-6

May 11 Beat Rays 9-4

May 12 Beat Rays 6-3 Game 1

May 12 Lost to Rays 10-3 Game 2

There are some good signs. Manny is out of his mind at present including average .351; Home Runs 13; RBI 36; .676 Slugging and 52 Hits.

Schoop and Trumbo are back and hitting the ball well. Mancini is getting hits in bunches too.

Pitching continues to be a problem and Orioles are getting crushed in giving up first inning runs. This has to improve soon!

Again, some signs of hope so let’s see what the next week brings.

Go O’s

 

TK

Orioles Bird Feed

I wish I had better news to report-not the case thus far in 2018 season!

April 26 Lost to Rays 9-5

April 27 Beat Tigers 6-0

April 28 Lost to Tigers 9-5

April 29 Beat Tigers 5-3

April 30 Off

May 1 Lost to Angels 3-2

May 2 Lost to Angels 10-7

May 3 Lost to Angels 12-3

Not good, not much to say. Pitching still spotty, team continues to be at or near the bottom of all major offensive statistical categories. Something has to change-soon. Machado Trade Alert has been activated!

 

Orioles Bird Feed (Week Ending 4/25/18)

Well O’s fans, not much has changed! Another rough week causing many more questions and a bit of panic in the first full month of the season.

Here’s the damage:

April 18; Lost to Tigers 6-5

April 19; Lost to Tigers 13-8

April 20; Beat The Indians 3-1

April 21; Lost to Indians 4-0

April 22; Lost to Indians 7-3

April 23; Lost to Indians 2-1

April 24; Rained Out

April 25; Lost to Rays 8-4

So, on April 25, 2018 the team sits at 6-18, 12.5 games out of 1st Place. 1-9 in last 10 games. Yuck!!

Not much to say here! A confluence of poor offense and spotty pitching.

Let’s hope for good things to come (they can’t get much worse).

 

Go O’s

TK

Orioles Bird Feed; Week in Review

Well, let’s get the nasty stuff out of the way, for the week 4/12 to 4/19, 2018

April 12 Off Day

April 13 Lost to Boston 7-3

April 14 Lost to Boston 10-3

April 15 Lost to Boston 3-1

April 16 Postponed for weather

April 17 Lost to Detroit 4-2

April 18 Lost to Detroit 6-5

April 19 Lost to Detroit 13-8

 

 

So, what to say? Sporadic and often missing hitting, spotty and inconsistent pitching, questionable line-ups, primarily leaving Chris Davis in when he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat and bullpen giving up runs by the bunches. I will use the old (and often desperate cliché) “it’s a long season.” At 5-14, it seems a lot longer and more painful.

Until next week, Go O’s ….PLEASE!

 

TK

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