Results tagged ‘ Orioles ’

Orioles/Yankees lineups and pregame tidbits

The Yankees already have their travel lineup out, so I figured I’d pass it along.Tonight’s game is in prime time,and there’s more regulars from NY than usual in a road spring contest.

Orioles top pitching prospect Zach Britton will take the mound tonight in just his second career outing (first start) facing Major League hitters. You can read about his first outing, against Philadelphia last week, here.

YANKEES LINEUP:
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Andruw Jones DH
Justin Maxwell LF
Greg Golson CF
Melky Mesa RF
Austin Romine C

SP Sergio Mitre
 

ORIOLES LINEUP

 Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Luke Scott 1B
vladimir Guerrero DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Adam Jones CF
Felix Pie LF
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS

SP Zach Britton

Down to the wire with Vlad

Where will Vladimir Guerrero sign? It’s February and Spring Training is literally just around the corner, making these next two days very important tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.
 
“The next 48 hours [are] expected to be pivotal in the Vladimir Guerrero contract talks,” Olney tweeted earlier. “The O’s have their offer on table; Vlad is looking for more.”

Not much here that hasn’t already been talked about, but it seems as if Guerrero will make a decision soon. The Orioles have had an offer on the table since Thursday and as of Wednesday morning have no knowledge of any self-imposed deadline from Guerrero or his camp.

They haven’t threatened to withdraw their offer by a certain date, either.

So, we’re left with Vlad weighing his other options, whatever they may be (an interesting idea floated last night by FoxSports was the Rays. More on that here.)

The O’s offer — believed to reach the $5 million mark with incentives — isn’t changing.  He’s made it no secret that he wants to play for a team with a chance to win and is more comfortable with a clubhouse that has some Latin American players. Neither of those things works in the O’s favor but they can offer Guerrero something most clubs can’t: consistent playing time.

He’d be a full-time DH, with Luke Scott moving to left field and Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold battling it out in Spring. Reimold has an option left so he could start the season in Triple-A.

What the O’s would sacrifice on defense with Scott in left, they’d presumably make up for with a beefed-up lineup.  You’ve heard before that the Rangers and Angels could sign Vlad in a part-time role, and he could put value the chance to play for either of those teams again over coming to Baltimore.

Either way, it looks to be resolved before the week is over.

Tidbits on Cal, B-Rob, prospects..

A few quick notes this morning..

*First Facebook and now Twitter. O’s second baseman Brian Roberts is all over the social media landscape these days. You can follow him @1brianroberts (and while you’re at it, follow me @britt_ghiroli)

*MLB.com will unveil its 50 Top Prospects in tonight’s show on MLB Network. Tune in to see where the Orioles top duo –Zach Britton and Manny Machado — rank among baseball’s budding stars. The show starts at 9 p.m. ET.

*The (Triple-A) International League announced today that Steve Balboni, Wade Boggs, and Cal Ripken, Jr., will be inducted into the circuit’s Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2011. All three players starred in the International League during the early 1980′s, and they now comprise the first Class elected to the IL Hall by a vote of current Hall of Fame members, along with longtime executives, broadcasters, and members of the media.

A National Baseball Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr., who went to be baseball’s “Iron Man”, enjoyed a stellar season playing third base for the Rochester Red Wings in 1981.

He slammed 23 home runs, and of course did not miss any of the team’s 114 games prior to an August call to Baltimore. In 1982 Ripken joined the Orioles full-time, following up his IL Rookie of the Year Award with American League Rookie of the Year honors. He played in every game from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998, establishing an all-time record of 2,632 consecutive games played.

The three inductees have been added to the International League Hall of Fame plaque display. The inductees will be presented with “The Curtain Call” statue during individual enshrinement ceremonies to place during the coming season. The IL Hall of Fame plaque display does not have a permanent home, but rather serves as a traveling testament to the storied legacy of the International League.

Triple-A Norfolk Tides general manager, Dave Rosenfield, and former Tides manager Frank Verdi were both enshrined into the IL Hall of Fame in 2008. Former Tides first baseman, Roberto Petagine was enshrined in 2009.

MacPhail shoots down the latest Vlad rumor..

The Orioles remain interested in Vladimir Guerrero although reports that they are close to reaching an agreement with the veteran slugger are premature.

MLB Network Radio reported Friday night that the two sides were closing in on a one-year deal, a story which usually tight-lipped president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail refuted in an email to MLB.com. 

“[The] report is not accurate,” MacPhail said.

MacPhail and the Orioles front office have met with Guerrero’s representatives earlier this winter, and with Manny Ramirez off the board it’s not out of the question that Guerrero could sign somewhere soon. The Angels also have reported interest.

Having already added Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy to their lineup, the O’s are most focused on adding a veteran starter and a lefty reliever before heading to Spring Training. They could use another bat for their bench, but it wouldn’t be a Guerrero-type; if he signed with Baltimore, it would be as a full-time designated hitter, a move that would likely shift Luke Scott to left field and crowd the current platoon of Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie. One of the three, most likely Pie under that scenario, would be traded.

The 35-year-old Guerrero is coming off a strong season with the Rangers in which he was named an All-Star for the ninth time in his career. The 35-year-old won his eighth Silver Slugger Award by hitting .300/.345/.496 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs.

Guerrero struggled in the second half of the season, hitting .278 with nine homers and 40 RBIs, batting just .220 with no homers in 15 postseason games as the Rangers advanced to their first World Series appearance.

The 2004 American League MVP while with the Angels, Guerrero is a career .320 hitter with 436 home runs and 1,433 RBIs over 15 seasons with the Expos, Angels and Rangers.

Reynolds rundown w/ Bell and first base info

There will be a full story up later tonight on Orioles.com, but first here a few brief highlights of the O’s press conference to announce this afternoon’s trade for Mark Reynolds.

*Reynolds will be at third base “period” according to MacPhail. He can play first base also, but the O’s have made it clear that he will be at the hot corner.

*So what does this mean for prospect Josh Bell? The O’s said they’ve been fielding lots of calls about Bell, who came up midway through last season and was clearly overmatched at the plate. Showalter was going to call Bell sometime on Monday to talk with him, and MacPhail also didn’t rule out Bell switching positions. But that’s down the line. Right now my guess is, Bell will probably start the season at Triple-A Norfolk. The O’s could eventually plug him in at first base but it won’t be next season because…

*I was told by several people today that the O’s acquiring Reynolds isn’t going to be their only move. They will “get a real first baseman”, and won’t go with a platoon of Ty Wigginton or Luke Scott.

While I speculated that they wouldn’t want Pena because, like Reynolds, he has a high strikeout ratio, that wouldn’t deter Showalter and the Orioles. Both Pena and Reynolds are power guys who bring good defense and exceptional team attitudes.

However, Pena’s asking price right now is high and there’s a reoccurring thought that he could resign a one-year deal in Tampa Bay and hope to have a bounce back year to raise his stock. There are other options such as Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee.

  *MacPhail said there’s nothing in his “back pocket” for the rest of Monday, but he did acknowledge that the next move will likely involve a reliever. The O’s have several offers out to free agent relievers and given that they just traded away two young arms, they’re going to need to add some back.

*This trade does not spell the end of Wigginton in Baltimore. Although it would clearly mean he would play less third base. The Orioles remain in contact with his agent.

Here’s MacPhail’s opening monologue concerning Reynolds from the just-wrapped press conference…

We are not as productive as we would like to be against left handed starters last year so we wanted to get some right handed bats in.  Mark has definitely demonstrated he is capable against left handed pitching, we are buoyed by the fact that he will start next year at 27, somebody that we have in our control for several years.  He is a young player who is improving his defense, which is a very important part of the equation for us.

And I couldn’t help but be struck by listening to Pat Gillick’s words today when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame; the one thing that he volunteered was when he started as a general manager, I thought the equation for character and talent went about 70 percent talent, 30 percent character, but by the end of his career he figured he had gotten it wrong and it was 70 percent character and 30 percent talent.  And we are delighted and hear nothing but great things about the intensity and character of Mark Reynolds.  So we are delighted to have him.  We hope to make some other changes to augment our offense over the course of the off season prior to Spring Training and are continuing to work towards that end.  

On Konerko…

The Orioles have made a “significant offer” to free agent Paul Konerko, according to Sirius XM’s Jim Bowden. Konerko is coming off a great season with the White Sox in which he hit .312 with 39 homers and 111 RBIs. He’s also a better defender than he’s given credit for and a great clubhouse guy.

But don’t get too excited yet. While it’s good to know the O’s are being aggressive –not just talking about being aggressive — Konerko has turned down the O’s before and there are indications that he will again. A source close to the situation said Konerko would prefer to play somewhere that trains in Arizona, where he can live at home for part of the year. He could also wait until fellow free agent slugger Adam Dunn is off the board to increase his options and market value.

The White Sox, where he spent the last dozen years, are still in the mix to bring back Konerko and Texas and the Diamonbacks are among those rumored to have interest. Konerko has said on the record that contract length isn’t that important to him, and there’s speculation that he’s not the type to choose the most money at this point in his career.

He left a lot of money on the table back in 2005 and could do it again.

Those that follow me on Twitter know he’s my top choice. It appears that with Victor Martinez off the market, he’s the Orioles top target as well.

The Orioles will not comment on negotiations –especially with MLB’s new rules to crack down on negotiating in the media — but their top priority is a power-hitting corner infielder, making free agents like Adrian Beltre, Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee, Adam LaRoche and Adam Dunn all plausible targets. 

A few tidbits..

*A reminder that the Orioles have until midnight tonight to decide whether to offer arbitration to Koji Uehara and Kevin Millwood. More details are up on the site here.

Do I think the Orioles will offer Uehara arbitration? I don’t know. I know they want him back, and it would seem like a good idea, in my opinion. He is due a substantial raise for essentially half a season, so they could gamble and pass but they have money to spend and a fan base that’s tired of guys being passed over. 

*Willie Randolph is close to joining Buck Showalter’s staff, and is in discussions with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail about a contract. I’ve been asked a few times what the holdup was and from what I heard it had nothing to do with monetary factors, like the Juan Samuel situation. Showalter simply took his time going through candidates. After Don Wakamatus opted to go to Toronto, Showalter was deliberate in mulling over numerous candidates, some who knew they were in the mix and some who didn’t. In the end, assuming Randolph agrees to terms, and I think he will, it’s a pretty impressive group of two former managers (inc. John Russell) and a bullpen coach (Rick Adair) who has also served as a Major League pitching coach. Lots of experience and expertise.

*Don’t expect much of anything on the Hot Stove concerning the Orioles, or anyone in the next few days. With a short holiday week a lot of GMs will be traveling and while there could be a few minor transactions it’s unlikely anything notable involving the O’s will go down.

*Also, an interesting premise by NY Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, who deems the Orioles “lucky” to have given Buck a chance. Here’s a snippet of the story with the full column up here

“So everybody loves Buck now, and not just in Baltimore. Everybody wants to know why their teams didn’t hire Buck in the years after he left Texas. I hear guys who thought Buck was obsessive and controlling and manipulative – the short list – now asking why the Mets didn’t hire him. Terrific.

But he’d been fired three places and had to go back to ESPN, so often a shelter for fired coaches and managers and even general managers, before the Orioles were smart enough to give him a shot. Suddenly, nearly 20 years after the Yankees first gave him a shot, Buck is the hot kid all over again.

You know what owners and general managers really know about the managers they hire in the end? That they never know.” 

Randolph talking terms with MacPhail

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is expected to finalize his coaching staff in the next day or two and it figures to be one that boasts vast experience and expertise, with at least one -and possibly two – former Major League managers.

Ex-Mets skipper Willie Randolph, a close friend and former colleague of Showalter’s, is the O’s top choice for the sixth and final position on staff, with the organization currently discussing contract terms. The move is not official and it’s still being determined whether Randolph would serve as third base coach or bench coach. 

Given his infield experience and well-known love for teaching and instruction, Randolph’s name surfaced along with Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson and Orioles instructor Bobby Dickerson on a list Showalter carefully deliberated on following Don Wakamatsu’s decision to go to Toronto.

The Baltimore Sun was the first to report on Monday night that the two sides were negotiating a possible deal that would bring Randolph -fresh off a one-year stint as the Brewers bench coach – to Baltimore.  A source close to the situation confirmed that Randolph is in contract talks with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and cited Randolph’s work with young players like Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks and emphasis on development as key in Showalter’s decision.

Reached at his home on Sunday evening, Randolph declined to discuss specifically coming to Baltimore, but made it clear he wouldn’t view a coaching job anywhere with one eye elsewhere.

“In my case you are looking for an opportunity that fits,” he said. “And you give your heart and soul to that. But it’s not like I’m doing this just to manage. I have a passion for the game, and the young players. I love what I do. It’s not about using a situation to try to get ahead.”

Showalter has declined to comment on any portion of his staff until the process is complete, as has MacPhail. Particularly with the way things unraveled in contract talks with Juan Samuel -who left for Philadelphia – it’s important to note that while Randolph is a strong possibility, it is not official.

The O’s have agreed to terms with hitting coach Jim Presley, pitching coach Mark Connor, bullpen coach Rick Adair, first base coach Wayne Kirby and former Pirates skipper John Russell, although some details regarding Russell’s position depends on Showalter’s final hire.

Some coaching thoughts..

The Mets have hired Terry Collins as their next manager and multiple reports have speculated that Collins could bring in close friend Dave Wallace to serve as pitching coach, although Dan Warthen did an admirable job this season.  The Pirates are also closing in on naming a coaching staff for new manager Clint Hurdle, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with four hires expected to be made official soon. 

So, it’s safe to say Rick Adair isn’t going off to greener pastures and will be the O’s bullpen coach for next season. Manager Buck Showalter is down to one final coaching spot, although it could be either third base or bench coach that gets filled depending on his last hire. Former Pirates skipper John Russell could serve either position and it stands to reason that he would be bench coach if Showalter promotes Bobby Dickerson –the O’s roving Minor League instructor turned interim Triple-A manager –to his big-league staff. The pair haven’t spoken formally about that, but Showalter knows Dickerson well from their days in the Yankees’ Minor Leagues.  If Dickerson isn’t named to Showalter’s staff, he will return to his role as roving instructor, assuming Gary Allenson heads back to manage Triple-A Norfolk.

It’s less clear what would happen if Showalter hires Rob Thomson –who has served as the Yankees third base and bench coach — or former Mets skipper Willie Randolph, who is fresh off a one-season stint as Brewers bench coach.

Those scenarios are still under discussion and Showalter has done a pretty good job of keeping his cards close to the vest. Thomson is well thought of in the Yankees organization and could be hard to lure away, while Randolph is a baseball lifer who would jump at the chance to join Showalter’s staff.  While some former managers would consider joining a staff only in terms of whether the situation would help them “get ahead” for another gig, Randolph has a passion for teaching and instruction and a friendship with Showalter that extends beyond baseball.

A final decision could come in the next few days, particularly now that the Mets and Pirates made headway in filling some vacancies on Sunday night.

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Talking some 40-man

The Orioles are expected to make a few personnel moves prior to Friday’s midnight deadline for setting rosters in advance of next month’s Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.

The O’s current 40-man roster is at 32, after a pair cleared waivers yesterday, leaving them with room right now to protect an additional eight, although I don’t think they will use all those spots. Keep in mind that clubs can add players through trades or free-agent signings. They can also continue to remove players, but the rules prevent clubs from adding players to their 40-man roster from within their organization after the deadline until the Rule 5 Draft concludes. That Draft is after the Winter Meetings, so it’s conceivable that the Orioles could leave a few spots open, particularly given that there aren’t a wealth of top prospects that need to be protected.

Players are generally eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected after four or five pro seasons – four years for players who were 19 or older when they signed their first pro contract; five years for players who were younger than 19.

Adding top prospect Zach Britton is a near-certainty and fellow pitcher Wynn Pelzer -who the Os got in the deadline trade of Miguel Tejada – is a pretty safe bet as well. You don’t trade for a guy and a few months later leave him exposed, especially since Pelzer -who was listed quite high by Baseball America’s recent ranking of the O’s system – has an arm that projects to be suited to the bullpen, i.e., a quicker route to the Majors.

Others who would need to protected or risk being exposed are: Matt Angle, Ryan Adams, Tyler Henson, Joe Mahoney, Pedro Beato, Billy Rowell, Tim Bascom, Steve Johnson, Pat Egan, Brandon Cooney, Chad Thall, Brandon Waring and Robbie Widlansky.

For more info on the Rule 5 Draft and its potential impact (who could forget the Rays losing Josh Hamilton?) MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has a good story up here.

*I’ve gotten a few questions so here’s my completed unsolicited opinion on the Baltimore Sun’s report that the Orioles asking about the Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett. Tampa Bay reportedly countered by asking about David Hernandez. I don’t like the idea at all, and fortunately, it’s highly unlikely at this point. If you are going to trade a young, cheap arm that hits the upper-90s my thought is you better be getting back a bat. It’s all preliminary talks at this point –the Os also reportedly asked about the Twins SS, J.J. Hardy — but in my opinion, Hernandez is too good of a trade chip to waste on a slight upgrade of Cesar Izturis. Get the power bat first. Package Hernandez, or another young arm with a guy like Felix Pie for a middle-of-the-order bat or a true impact shortstop or starter. Not a potential rental. 

Agree? Disagree? Got a better idea? Let’s hear it. Email me or join the fun on Twitter

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