October 2012

Orioles decline Reynolds’ option

The Orioles have declined the $11 million club option for first baseman Mark Reynolds.

Reynolds is still under team control and could be retained if the Orioles offer him arbitration or the two sides work out a deal. The 29-year-old Reynolds got off to the worst start of his career and struggled offensively most of the season, but he did hit 23 home runs and played solid defense at first base. That would suggest Reynolds, who made $7.5 million this season, would make a figure close to $9 million in arbitration, unless the two sides can come to some sort of agreement.

If the Orioles decide to not tender him a contract by the Nov. 30 deadline, Reynolds — who would get a $500,000 buyout — would become a free agent. In a weak year for corner infielders, he could opt to cash in elsewhere and leave Baltimore searching for a first base solution, either internally or on the free agent market. Reynolds posted a .221/.335/.429 line with 69 RBIs in 135 games, playing through multiple injuries down the stretch.

They are expected to pick up right-handed reliever Luis Ayala’s $1 million option for next season, with a formal announcement on both options coming later today.

Hardy, Jones, Wieters win Gold Glove Awards

I will have quotes and reactions up later tonight on Orioles.com, but here is a quick look at Baltimore’s trio of Rawlings Glove Glove Award winners in shortstop J. J. Hardy, centerfielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters.

The news came as part of a televised unveiling on ESPN 2, with the  Orioles having a Major League-leading three winners, with the Yankees the only other team to have multiple selections. The Glove Glove Award –given for defensive excellence — is the first of Hardy’s career and is the second for Jones (also in 2009) and Wieters, who has now won in back-to-back seasons.

Hardy’s first career Gold Glove comes after a season in which he led AL shortstops in games (158), fielding percentage  (.922), putouts (244), assists (529), range factor per game (4.89), defensive wins above replacement (2.8) and total zone runs (21). He made just six errors in 779 chances at the position, and his .992 fielding percentage was the highest mark by an AL shortstop since Mike Bordick’s .998 for the Orioles in 2002.

This season marks the second straight year Hardy has lead the league in fielding percentage and range factor per game at his position. Additionally Hardy’s 529 assists were the most by an AL shortstop since Cal Ripken, Jr. had 531 for the Orioles in 1989. He is the fourth Orioles shortstop to win a Gold Glove, joining Luis Aparicio (1964 and ’66), Mark Belanger (1969, ’71, ’73-’78) and Ripken (1991 and ’92).

Jones, named the Most Valuable Oriole by members of the local media, led AL centerfielders in games (162) and putouts (439), ranking second in range factor per game (2.75) and third in assists (7). He is one of three Orioles outfielders who have won Gold Glove Awards, with Paul Blair winning in 1967 and 1969-75 and Nick Markakis earned the selection last season.

Wieters, who joined Jones at this year’s All-Star Game, led the league in defensive games (134) and putouts (994), ranked second in runners caught stealing (32) and range factor per game (7.81) and was third in caught stealing percentage (38.6%). His 994 putouts were the third-most in AL history for a catcher and the most since Jorge Posada had 996 for the Yankees in 2001. Wieters is the only Orioles catcher to receive a Gold Glove.

It is the 18th season the Orioles have had multiple Gold Glove winners in the same year, and their most since 1998 when second baseman Roberto Alomar, pitcher Mike Mussina and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro all took home the honors. It is the ninth time in club history the Orioles have had at least three players win a Gold Glove in the same season (also 1998, ’76, ’75, ’74, ’73, ’71, ’70 and ’69).

Sixteen different Orioles players have earned a total of 64 Gold Gloves since the award was created in 1957, second-most in the American League, one fewer than the New York Yankees (65) and 22 more than the next-closest AL team, the Minnesota Twins (42).

A few notes

*Congratulations to Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was named the Sporting News American League Manager of the Year. The Nationals Davey Johnson was named the NL Manager of the Year. Major League Baseball will announce the winners of their BBWA-voted AL and NL Manager of the Year on Nov. 13 and Showalter is considered a a heavy favorite.

*One of the immediate tasks on Showalter’s agenda following the season was the coaching staff, which was initially expected to be brought back in full. That could change depending on third base coach DeMarlo Hale, who has been in demand this offseason with interest from at least three organizations. He interviewed for the vacant Red Sox managerial position, which went to John Farrell and is a candidate for the Blue Jays’ manager spot previously held by Farrell. The Astros also have interest in bringing in Hale as a potential bench coach, a move that is still seen as an upward one and would likely be permitted by the Orioles for Hale to interview if contacted. Former Orioles’ manager Dave Trembley is also a part of that Houston staff, under new manager Bo Porter, although his exact coaching role has yet to be determined.

*If you haven’t already registered and you’re in the Baltimore-area, I encourage you to check out the KidsPeace Trick-or-Treat-Trot going on in Canton this weekend. The event is a 5K and Showalter and his wife, Angela, are teaming up with the charity to host the third annual event this Saturday. More details on that can be found here.

*The plan remains for Ryan Flaherty to play winter ball, although the organization is still sorting out where exactly to send him. Flaherty, a Rule 5 Draft pick, played in 77 Major League games and the Orioles want to get the rookie some more at-bats before next spring. It’s important to note because the Orioles had Flaherty on their roster the entire year, he is no longer subject to those Rule 5 rules and can be optioned –if necessary –next season.

*Got an offseason question? I answered a few in the latest Orioles.com inbox –which can be found here– and there’s also a spot to submit your own questions for the next one.

Got a question?

I’m working up an inbox for Orioles.com later this week as we start to move into free agency and the offseason.

If you have an Orioles-related question you can send it in an email to brittany.ghiroli@mlb.com with “inbox” in the headline. Please include your name and hometown (I won’t use full names) in the query. Thanks!

Showalters team up with KidsPeace for 5K

Orioles Manager Buck Showalter and his wife Angela have teamed up with KidsPeace to host the third annual KidsPeace Trick-or-Trot 5K run/1M walk this Saturday, October 27 in Canton. This family event is open to all ages and features Halloween activities in addition to the race.

The entry fee for individuals participating in the run is $35, which includes an Under Armour t-shirt for the first 400 registered runners. Families who plan to walk the one mile together will pay just $20 and are encouraged to dress in their favorite Halloween costumes. Pets are also invited and are welcome to dress for Halloween as well. Foster families and children walk at no charge.

Race day registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and the race will begin at 9:00 a.m. The course goes through the Canton and Patterson Park neighborhoods, beginning and ending at O’Donnell Square in Canton.

The top three registered teams who raise the most money will be eligible to win gift certificates, a complimentary wine tasting, 2013 Orioles tickets and more. In addition, there will be prizes for top runners, age group winners and most creative Halloween costumes for adults, children and pets. After the completion of the race, participants can join the Showalters and the Oriole Bird for light fare and Halloween fun in O’Donnell Square.

In addition to race day, on Friday from 5:00-8:00 p.m. there will be a Pre-Race Party at O’Donnell Square. Participants may pick up their race packets, listen to live music, enjoy a discounted dinner at one of the race sponsors’ restaurants and browse the shops on the square.

The Showalters are enthusiastic supporters of KidsPeace, a private charity dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children, families and communities. All proceeds from this event benefit KidsPeace Foster Care and Community Programs of Maryland.

To register online, visit http://www.kidspeace.org. For more information or for sponsorship opportunities, contact Gina Seyfried, 410-964-9329 or gina.seyfried@kidspeace.org.

Duquette on the season, free agency, etc

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette held court with reporters today, (I’ll have more from manager Buck Showalter later) and he discussed a wide variety of topics.

On the injury front, the Orioles are expecting Brian Roberts to be fully healthy for Spring Training and Jason Hamel –who had in-season right knee surgery — right now looks as if he will not need another procedure. I’ve written about Nolan Reimold expecting to have a pretty regular offseason and be ready by spring and Nick Markakis will undoubtedly be ready as well.

I’ll have a full story up later on Orioles.com, but here are a few of the highlights…

“We took a giant step forward this year and we re-energized the fan base, improving the number of games we improved was significant,” Duquettte said. “Buck had a good foundation of pieces here and we’ve continued to build on that so we can have a winning organization. Not just a good team for this year but a foundation on which we can build on so we can have a good team year in and year out. That’s really the Oriole way. It’s the same way that they build the great Oriole teams and we are doing the same thing now. So that we have a core group of players on this ballclub and we can have them together for a few years and we can take another run at the championship.

This year we knocked on the door, we didn’t get quite get through but we took a big step forward.”

Duquette said watching the team in the postseason was a good experience for the entire organization and he thinks it will help their judgement in improving upon the current club.

“A base hit here or there, an out here or there, we’d be playing for the American League Championship,” he said. “I think the experience of playing in the postseason is a good one for everyone to have. But I’m also keen enough to realize when you get into close competition it helps you identify your strengths but also the area you need to improve to win the championship. That’s something we can take a look at in the offseason…But you know the core of our lineup is good, and it’s young.”

Duquette declined to discuss individual contract situations, including that of first baseman Mark Reynolds, who has an $11 million club option for 2013.

“I can tell you we have a team here full of gritty baseball plays and they come to play,” Duquette said.  “And what Mark Reynolds did the second half of the season, getting himself to be a good first baseman, working hard every single day, twenty minutes a day to be a good defender at first base, the team really appreciated it. And he made a significant contribution to the team. Particularly in August and September.”

A few more highlights...

[on if he will be more active in bringing marquee free agents to Baltimore]
“I’ve said all along the way to build a good ballclub is from the ground up. lt’s not from the top down.  Having said that we signed a couple free agents last year that did a good job…So, we are always looking for opportunity, but I’m going to tell you this”: the core players are going to come from our minor league system. The really good ballplayers. And we’ve got a couple of them on the horizon that can help our pitching staff.”

[on if the organization has a legitimate ace]
“We are going to find out. We got couple of top picks that went three in the country and four in the of country in [prospects] Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. They have the type of stuff that could develop into top of the rotation. We have a couple top starters. Do we have a no. 1 starter yet? I think we need to continue to look for a no. 1 starter. But we might have a couple right here.”

[on international scouting]
“A lot of the investments we made worked for us, and we are continuing to scout around the globe. We hope to get into Europe this year, and we are going to continue to look in the Caribbean and also the far East.”

[on if his philosophy in avoiding going after big-ticket free agents has changed with this year’s success]
“The success of the club, I think, gives our fans hope that we can have a good team year-in and year-out. The idea of having a foundation and then adding to that foundation as the season progresses like we did this year with [Joe] Saunders. You take at the look Saunders did, he pitched god for the team down the stretch, he helped us win both elimination games. He was a veteran pitcher that did exactly what we wanted him to do. He helped stabilize a pitching staff and his experience in the playoff showed the way for some of our younger pitchers.

So I think that’s more likely the type of acquisition we would make. But I’m going to tell you right now, we have the foundation to have a good team here. We have the guys on this team to be competitive and be a top-flight team.”

[on the payroll for next season]
“We should be able to continue to field a highly-competitive team within the revenues of our market.”

[even with all the arbitration guys?]
“We have over a dozen arbitration-eligible players, but we’ve taken a look at the payroll and we think we can fit most of them on the ballclub.”

 

Angelos holds court

Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos made his second appearance in five days following the organization’s postseason run — which ended with Friday’s 3-1 Game 5 loss to the New York Yankees — and spoke of building on a phenomenally successful 2012.

The 83-year-old Angelos — who’s rarely seen in the clubhouse and also visited the team following Game 2’s win in Baltimore — said after the season-ending American League Division Series in New York that the Orioles are an institution in Maryland.

“For a long period of time, as you gentlemen and ladies have stressed frequently, there was a long, long arid period,” said Angelos, who briefly held court with a throng of reporters. “I hope this will be the case, the year that we mean business, and in the future you can depend on this kind of a performance and hopefully much better.”

Angelos said a contract extension with manager Buck Showalter –who is signed through 2013—hasn’t been discussed, but if the O’s skipper wants to stay “nobody’s more interested in keeping him than I am.”

“And certainly I speak for everyone in the organization,” Angelos said of Showalter, considered a legitimate candidate for AL Manager of the Year. “They had Buck as the manager and Dan Duquette as the GM. You certainly couldn’t ask for a better, better combination.”

Angelos, who went around to several players lockers to shake their hands and visit –much like he did in Baltimore Monday night – also had some words for the Orioles divisional rivals in New York.

“As far as the local team here is concerned, we just want to tell them we will be back next year,” he said. “They better get ready for it.”

Orioles @ Yankees Game 5

UPATED: Major League Basebeall has announced start times for the American League Championship Series. If the O’s advance the first two games (all in ET) are both in Detroit, starting Saturday: Game 1 is 8:07. Game 2 is 4:07. Games 3-5 (if needed) would be in Baltimore at  8:07, 8:07 & 4:07. Game 6 in in Detroit would be 8:07 if needed, and Game 7 would be in Detroit at 8:15. All  ALCS games will be televised nationally on TBS.

Greetings from the Bronx, where the O’s and Yankees will square off in a winner-take-all Game 5 starting at 5:07 p.m. ET tonight. The big news is Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez, who has struggled in particular against right-handed pitching, being benched. More on that here.

If you missed how it went down, the Orioles forced a Game 5 with a 13-inning win last night. You can read my gamer here. There’s also plenty of additional coverage from last night’s game up on Orioles.com for your perusal. Check it out.

*I’ve been asked a few times who would get the ball in a Game 1 if the O’s advance to the League Championship Series (where they would play Saturday’s Game 1 and Sunday’s Game 2 in Detroit) and the most logical options are right-hander Chris Tillman and lefty Wei-Yin Chen.In  a perfect world, I think the Orioles would prefer to use Tillman in Game 1 and push back Chen to get him an extra days’ rest.

Both guys will be available to pitch in the bullpen tonight, with manager Buck Showalter making it clear that all hands are on deck in a do-or-die scenario like tonight. The Orioles bullpen pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings last night and the team badly needs starter Jason Hammel to go deep into tonight’s game. Only Miguel Gonzalez and Joe Saunders, the club’s starters the previous two games, would be unavailable to go tonight.

Hammel will oppose Yankees ace CC Sabathia with Lew Ford and Robert Andino getting the start against the lefty.

*Wilson Betemit and Zach Britton will join the Orioles in New York this afternoon and they will be both be considered potential options for the ALCS should the Orioles advance. So would pitchers Jake Arrieta and Steve Johnson and position players Omar Quintanilla and Steve Tolleson.

*Top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman both threw in the final day of fall instructional league in Florida today. Gausman topped out at 97mph with his fastball, and manager Buck Showalter said Bundy also got glowing reviews.
ORIOLES LINEUP
Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis RF
Matt Wieters C
Manny Machado 3B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Lew Ford DH
Robert Andino 2B

Jason Hammel RHP

YANKEES LINEUP
Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez DH
Nick Swisher RF
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Eric Chavez 3B

CC Sabathia LHP

Orioles @ Yankees Game 4

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Jim Thome DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Manny Machado 3B

Joe Saunders LHP

YANKEES LINEUP
Derek Jeter DH
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Nick Swisher RF
Russell Martin C
Curtis Granderson CF
Jayson Nix SS

Phil Hughes RHP

Orioles @ Yankees Game 3

Greetings from the Bronx, where the Orioles and Yankees will square off for Game 3 of the American League Division Series tonight with the series tied at 1. Here are your lineups…

*Third baseman Manny Machado has had his rookie moments, but he’s blended in between the lines. You can read more on that here.

*Jason Hammel will start Game 5 on Friday, if needed, provided his work day today goes OK. Hammel started Game 1 and the Orioles are still weighing their options for Game 4 tomorrow, with Chris Tillman and Joe Saunders being the two candidates. Manager Buck Showalter alluded to being able to pitch one of them tonight, which would make it seem as if they were leaning toward Tillman with Saunders a relief option if needed tonight. Righty Miguel Gonzalez is on the mound tonight.

*Wilson Betemit and Zach Britton are at instructional league and both are options for the League Championship Series if the Orioles advance. Betemit has been playing in games, serving at designated hitter, and will play half the game at first base and half at third tomorrow.  Britton threw three innings in a simulated game yesterday as they try to build him back up as a starting option.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nate McLouth LF
J.J Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Jim Thome DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Manny Machado 3B

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

YANKEES LINEUP
Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Eric Chavez 3B

Hiroki Kuroda RHP

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