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Put a bird on it!

Updated: 2017-12-14T09:58:54-05:00


Rule 5 draft: Orioles go haywire, picking three players


There's nothing that Dan Duquette loves more than the Rule 5 draft. He proved that in the 2017 edition, picking THREE different players from other organizations. The two classic certainties in life are death and taxes. As long as Dan Duquette is the GM of the Orioles, we can add a third: The Orioles picking someone in baseball's Rule 5 draft. On Thursday morning, Duquette went into turbo mode at the draft, picking three different players, all pitchers, in the draft. The Rule 5 draft is the annual experiment where teams can select non-40-man roster players from other organizations, provided those players have been professionals for long enough. No one but the maddest of madmen would ever try to take three players in the same year, but the Orioles entered the draft with only 34 players on their 40-man roster and their pitching was a mess last year, so I guess they thought they might as well do something crazy. Maybe some other GM bet that he wouldn't do it and then he replied, "Hold my beer." The players the Orioles selected are: LHP Nestor Cortes, originally a Yankees 36th round pick out of high school in 2013 RHP Pedro Araujo, a Dominican-born player from the Cubs organization RHP Jose Mesa, son of the former Oriole of the same name, a Yankees 24th round pick in 2012 All will be subject to the typical Rule 5 restrictions, which is that they must be kept on the active roster or MLB disabled list all season or else be offered back to their original teams. Remember, the Orioles will also have this restriction for last year's Rule 5 pick, Anthony Santander, who wasn't returned but didn't get the required number of days on the active roster, either. Probably not even the Orioles are crazy enough to try to carry multiple Rule 5 pitchers at once, although I guess you never know, especially if they get desperate enough by continuing to strike out on getting free agents. If I had to guess right now, I'd say they will just keep one of them but take all of spring training to evaluate all three and see who they like the best and more importantly, who might fit in with how the roster shapes up. Nestor Cortes The Orioles telegraphed that they wanted a lefty and they got a lefty who looks like he can pop up in the long relief/spot starter role, based on how he's been used in the minors. Cortes just turned 23 earlier this week. The lefty spent about half the year with Double-A Trenton and half the year with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, pitching a combined 104.2 innings. That included 30 games, 13 of which were starts. The Scranton performance is probably what caught the O's eye: 57 strikeouts in 48.1 innings, only 11 walks, and no home runs allowed. Cortes is only 5'11", which is a little short for both pitchers and Stormtroopers, but he's had success climbing the minors, so now the O's can see if he has any MLB value. Pedro Araujo This 6'3" righty turned 24 in July but spent most of the 2017 season in the bullpen of High-A Myrtle Beach. If that doesn't sound very interesting, that's because it's not, but he struck out 83 batters in 64.2 innings for that club and walked just 17. High-A to MLB would be a huge jump, of course, so it would be a surprise if he sticks around. His chances probably increase if the Orioles end up dealing one or more relievers this offseason. Jose Mesa Yes, he's the son of the Oriole with the same name. This 6'4" righty turned 24 in August and spent most of the season with High-A Tampa, though he got some time at Double-A Trenton towards season's end. Mesa had been exclusively a reliever in his professional career before this season, when eight of his 29 games were starts. ESPN's Keith Law tweeted that he saw Mesa at Trenton, and Mesa was pitching with an 88-89mph fastball. That is a textbook definition of unexciting. But he made it work, though he was also old for his levels, striking out 101 batters in 84 innings across both levels this season. You may have noticed a theme here with these picks. The odds of seeing more than one of them pitch a regular season game in an Orioles uniform are smal[...]

Thursday Bird Droppings: Where it's Christmas for Dan Duquette


Dan Duquette's favorite day of the offseason has arrived: Rule 5 draft day. In today’s links, more Machado trade talk, Orioles superlatives, the reliever market, and more. Hello, friends. There are now 103 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day 2018. There are zero days remaining until Christmas for Dan Duquette, because today is the long-awaited (for him) Rule 5 draft. The Orioles, based on Duquette's comments to media on Wednesday, seem to be looking to grab a left-handed reliever who might, if all goes right, be able to be used as a spot starter and even, some day, a starter. Think T.J. McFarland. That's probably an optimistic outcome, which is why the Rule 5 draft is not really a big deal. The Orioles aren't expected to lose anyone because they have no good Rule 5-eligible players. The Rule 5 draft might be what passes for news today, but it's certainly not the biggest Birdland story worth talking about as the winter meetings draw to a close. Duquette told reporters that "more than a handful" of teams have checked in about Machado. FanRag's Jon Heyman reported that there are multiple offers that have been made. Is today the day? Probably not, although you never know. Duquette indicated Wednesday that teams tend to make their decisions about what they want next year's team to look like before the first of the year, so it's not yet "fish or cut bait" time on Machado, but the end of the year is just more than two and a half weeks away, plus there's Christmas in there. It'll be here sooner than we want. Of course, the Orioles themselves only have so much time to decide whether that's what they want to do. The way the starting pitching market shapes up could be what decides things for them. And it's already shaping up in such a way that they're unlikely to do much. So I guess we'll see how it all goes. Around the blogO'sphere Orioles need to take the best overall package for Machado - divisional hatred be damned (Baltimore Baseball)Dan Connolly gets it. Dan Duquette seems to get it. Does Peter Angelos get it? Vibrant reliever free agent market places added value on Orioles bullpen pieces (Baltimore Sun)I don’t really get this logic for Zach Britton or Brad Brach, because free agents only cost money. But maybe a team that doesn’t want to lay out multiple years for a reliever feels differently. Brach’s status on trade market tied to Britton (School of Roch)Every now and again there is a story that comes along that makes it seem like the Orioles don’t have any idea what the hell they are doing. This is one of those stories. Zach Britton says his knee ‘feels great’ and he’s taking trade talk ‘in stride’ this time (Baltimore Baseball)It wasn’t too many months ago that Britton said his forearm was doing great and that was not correct. A quick look at the Rule 5 draft with Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper (Steve Melewski)A couple of names to keep an eye on out of this interview: Jake Brentz of the Pirates and Sam Selman of the Royals. MLB Superlatives: Who is the Orioles class clown, best dressed, and more? (Cut 4)This one is a video. It might still entertain you. Who killed the DH? (Beyond the Box Score)Mark Trumbo was among the worst culprits, but he wasn’t the only one. Birthdays and anniversaries There are a few former Orioles with birthdays today. They are: 2002-06 pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, 1991 starter Jeff Robinson, and the late Bobby Adams of the 1956 Orioles. Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your birthday buddies for today include: astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546), George VI of England (1895), Doolittle Raid commander Jimmy Doolittle (1895), baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio (1965), actress/singer Vanessa Hudgens (1988), and singer Tori Kelly (1992). On this day in history... In 1287, the Zuiderzee sea wall collapsed in the Netherlands during the St. Lucia's flood, killing an estimated 50,000-80,000 people. In 1812, the last remnants of the Grande Armee were driven from Russia, thus ending Napoleon's invasion. In 1903, the Wright Brothers made their fir[...]

Orioles trade rumors: "More than a handful" of teams interested in Manny Machado



It's day two of the Orioles Might Trade Manny Machado Era. GM Dan Duquette told reporters that the O's are still evaluating the interest in Machado.

Not much more than 24 hours have passed since the first report that the Orioles were really willing to listen to offers about Manny Machado. The slow-moving O's have unsurprisingly not traded their star player just yet, but according to GM Dan Duquette, there are "more than a handful" of interested teams - and the O's are still gauging that interest.

Meeting with Orioles reporters for the Wednesday evening information dump, Duquette had a lot to say - again unsurprisingly - about the Machado situation. Notably, there were more meetings with teams that took place on Wednesday, so it's not like the initial wave of suitors, whoever they are, has proven to be the only one.

One team that's been reported to be interested in Machado is the Yankees. At least as far as Duquette is concerned, the idea of trading within the division is not a barrier to pulling off a trade. This is the right answer to the question:

The idea that Machado should and possibly will get traded is not a fun realization for any Orioles fan. I'm sad just thinking about the idea of it actually happening, even if I know, on a rational level, it may be for the best for the franchise in the long term.

These guys should be together forever and good forever. But that's not the way that baseball works. Contracts run out. Players get older. Teams have to make tough choices on how to keep the party going with the resources that are made available to them.

Sometimes, the tough choice is realizing that the party's over and it's time to clean up the house and plan for the next party. If the Orioles are shopping Machado as Rosenthal says, they seem to have realized this. And if that's what's going on, it's time to strap ourselves in, because the rest of this offseason could be a wild ride.

Reality is catching up to the Orioles dreams of fixing their rotation


The Orioles had the worst starting rotation in MLB. Pitchers they liked have signed elsewhere. Reality can be so cruel. The Orioles league-worst starting rotation was so bad in the 2017 season that it was, at times, unfathomable. The only positive about it is that most of the bad pitchers are free agents. Yet the O's still entered the offseason needing to fill three holes in that rotation if they want to avoid filling innings with the dregs of MLB again. If they ever had any hope of doing that, those hopes have been dashed in the past week. A flurry of signings of players who, according to Baltimore Baseball's Dan Connolly, had interested the Orioles, has depleted the market of guys they might have signed without costing them big bucks. That's a group that includes Coors Field escapee Tyler Chatwood, now with the Cubs, returning-from-Japan Miles Mikolas to the Cardinals, and even Mike Fiers, who had a 5.22 ERA and chose one year with the Tigers over two years with the Orioles. The richest contract of the three was Chatwood's three years and $38 million. It is not a lot of money for a starter, unless you're viewing it through Orioles lenses. O's GM Dan Duquette sounded like a man who has come face-to-face with the reality of the vanishing starters when he spoke to Orioles reporters towards the end of the first day of MLB's winter meetings. Some of those remarks, as relayed by MASN's Roch Kubatko: There’s so many teams looking for pitching, we might have to be a little bit more proactive than that. The market’s dynamic and it’s starting to take shape and you see a lot of these teams looking at who they want to sign and who wants to sign with them. We’ve probably got to move a little bit quicker. On one hand, it's nice to see Duquette acknowledge that the O's typical glacial pace that leads to their signing whatever free agent pitcher nobody else wanted in February (usually for good reason) is not going to work this time around. On the other hand, with the way the signings have gone so far, this is the quintessential example of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Connolly wrote that there were four players who really interested the O's and at this point the only one of them who is left is Andrew Cashner. Further complicating the O's efforts, although this is one of their standard self-inflicted handicaps, is an apparent unwillingness to offer more than three years to one of the free agent pitchers. "Those haven't worked out that well for the club," Duquette told O's reporters Monday, referring to 4+ year contracts to pitchers. The Orioles have only handed out one to a starter: Ubaldo Jimenez. Is that really going to scare them away from attempting to sign any mid-tier or better pitcher forever? Let's hope not. Duquette went on to attempt to justify this untenable position: There’s been some pretty decent pitchers that have been in this market without going to four or five years. There’s been some signings already where pitchers have signed for a couple years. They’re qualified major league players. So I don’t think you have to say you’ve got to go four or five years in that market to be competitive. It's not entirely clear to me who Duquette means when he says "pretty decent pitchers in this market" that didn't get 4+ years as free agents. Duquette hasn't had a successful domestic free agent starting pitcher signing. Counting international players, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez were largely successes. Trades for Jason Hammel and Bud Norris provided one good season apiece for the Orioles. That's about it for guys who came from outside the organization in Duquette's tenure. And the last two seasons in particular, the Orioles rotation has decidedly not been competitive. There is more risk in going 4-5 years in signing a player, of course. Jimenez is hardly the only failed signing at that level or higher. The Royals would seem to regret the five years and $70 million that they gave to Ian Kennedy. [...]