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Put a bird on it!

Updated: 2016-10-25T09:00:06-04:00


Jonathan Schoop was up and down in 2016, but he was always on the field


His hitting may not have been consistent, but his presence on the field sure was. So far in our series of positional wrap-ups, there’s been a little bit of a theme: nearly every position was manned by a whole bunch of a different Orioles in 2016. Nine O’s each played left field and right field this year. Eight pitchers started at least ten games. Even positions with starters written in stone like third base, center field and shortstop were disrupted by injuries to the point where other players had to put in significant time. That trend stops today. Orioles second basemen played a total of 1,432 defensive innings in 2016. Orioles second basemen who are not Jonathan Schoop played a total of three. Until August 20th, Schoop had played every single inning at second base for the Orioles. On August 20th! He was subbed out that day for Ryan Flaherty when the O’s were getting crushed by the Astros. Flaherty ended up pitching. Over a month later, on September 28th, Michael Bourn pinch ran for Schoop in the ninth against Toronto, and scored on Hyun Soo Kim’s memorable game-winning homer. Flaherty played second in the ninth. Those were the only two times Schoop watched the Orioles play defense from the bench. That’s an impressive accomplishment, and it was looking even more impressive at the halfway point of the season. That’s because in addition to his durability, he was hitting the crap out of the ball. Schoop hit .304/.338/.509 in the first half with 14 homers, and he was suddenly looking like one of the best second basemen in the game. Unfortunately, that didn’t last. His offense cratered, as he posted a second-half OPS that was over 200 points below his first-half output. Schoop’s anemic second-half numbers (.225/.252/.391) led to an almost perfectly league-average .267/.298/.454 line with 25 homers for the season. The question now is, which hitter is the real Schoop? Despite the wild swings throughout the year, Schoop’s final batting line probably represents his true talent pretty well. He had a .348 BABIP in the first half compared to .255 in the second half, so a big part of his drop-off can be explained by simple batted ball luck. Schoop isn’t as good as he was in the first half, nor is he as bad as he was the rest of the way. He’s probably going to continue to be a roughly average hitter, and for a second baseman that’s not a problem at all. There are also some encouraging signs for the future. Schoop’s 21.2% strikeout rate was the best of his career by a good margin (almost 4%). His walk rate of 3.2%, while still insanely low, is also - somehow - a career best. If he can continue to improve his plate discipline, Schoop could be one of the Orioles’ best players in 2017. Even as it stands now, he was worth 2 fWAR this year. That’s production worthy of an eight-figure salary from a player making half a million. The O’s could use a few more of those guys. Now, let’s talk about Schoop’s defense. After 2014, many of us considered Schoop to be an elite defensive second baseman, because, well, the metrics showed that he was an elite defensive second baseman. Since then, that hasn’t been the case. He graded out poorly in 2015, and even if we assume some of that was injury-related, he was only average or slightly below average this season. Sure, defensive metrics for a single season aren’t all that reliable, but we can’t just brush off the past two years. Schoop was worth 10 defensive runs saved (DRS) and had a +5.8 UZR over 1010.2 innings in 2014. Since then, he’s been worth -4 DRS and a -7.4 UZR in 2150 innings. Both systems agree with each other here, and we now have twice as much evidence against Schoop being a great fielder than we do in support of that idea. The individual components of DRS seem to confirm the “look test”; Schoop saves runs with his arm and his quick double play turns, but gives many of those runs back with his glove. The good news is that even if he’s an average or slightly below average fielder, his bat is good enough to make him a guy you want [...]

Tuesday Bird Droppings: Another Orioles-less World Series begins


Today in the links, another round of Matt Wieters qualifying offer talk, one publication puts out its O's top 10 prospects list, and for anyone who cares about spring training, the schedule has been released. Hello, friends. There are now 160 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day 2017. That is still quite a lot of days, nearly an entire baseball season full of days, in fact. There is little comfort in the fact that the World Series starts tonight, although it does. If there's a sweep, the World Series could be over by Saturday night. Are you rooting for the Cubs, or for the Indians? Now that I come down to the choice, I find that my sympathies go the most with the Indians. In general, it's better if the American League team wins - as long as it's not like, the Red Sox or some other team I really hate - because otherwise we have to put up with all of the National League fans acting like they play real baseball. They don't play real baseball. Crappy #8 hitters being intentionally walked to bring up the pitcher spot is not real baseball. The end. But it's OK if you want to root for the Cubs. I won't hold it against you, probably. Anyway, forget all of these other baseball teams, let's talk some Orioles. Around the blogO'sphere Should The Orioles Give Matt Wieters A Qualifying Offer? - MLB Trade RumorsIt is that time of year, isn't it? We'll have our own take on this eventually, but in the meantime, here's what MLBTR has to say about the subject of Wieters and the QO. Inside the CBA: Barring changes, Orioles will face decisions on qualifying offers soon after World Series - Baltimore SunTurns out that it's not even yet a sure thing that the QO system will remain in the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players. But it's expected to. They need to figure that out pretty soon here. 2017 Baltimore Orioles Top 10 Prospects | BaseballAmerica.comBaseball America's Steve Melewski runs through the top ten prospects in the Orioles system heading into the offseason. D.J. Stewart has disappeared down the memory hole. Baseball America's top 10 Orioles prospects: Chance Sisco is No. 1 - Steve MelewskiIn this article, MASN's Steve Melewski breaks down the top 10 Orioles prospects list published by Baseball America's Steve Melewski. Orioles announce spring training schedule - School of RochSpring training sucks and it's boring. But if you want to go catch any of the games next March, here's what you can use to plan. Tap-In Question: Who is the O's ultimate 'One that got away?' - BaltimoreBaseball.comDan Connolly wants to know who you most regret getting away from the Orioles to go be good elsewhere. In recent years, Jake Arrieta is basically the only answer, though there are some others if you dig into the past a bit more. Break the bank for Kenley Jansen - Viva El BirdosThis is the Cardinals blog wanting their team to spend big on free agent-to-be Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers closer. I don't think the Orioles should trade Zach Britton, but, if the Cardinals don't get Jansen and really want an elite closer... well, the O's should at least ask, shouldn't they? Actually, the Cardinals only have three of's top 100 prospects right now, so who knows if they'd even do a trade. Birthdays and anniversaries Of all of the players to ever play for the Orioles, only two have a birthday today: 1983/88 reserve Tito Landrum and 1960 three-gamer Bobby Thomson. Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your other birthday buddies for today include: Dodge co-founder John Francis Dodge (1864), surrealist painter Pablo Picasso (1881), basketball coach Bobby Knight (1940), baseball Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez (1971), novelist Zadie Smith (1975), and singer-songwriter Katy Perry (1984). On this day in history... In 285, or 286, Saints Crispin and Crispinian were executed by beheading during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian. They are now the patron saints of leather workers, curriers, and shoemakers. In 1415, Henry V's force of English defeated a numerically superior, and more heavily-armed, Fr[...]

The Orioles rotation was horrible and they’ll all be back next year


The Orioles starting pitchers were collectively one of the worst units in baseball. They’re all under contract for 2017. The bad news about the Orioles starting rotation this year is that it was among the worst in baseball with a collective 4.72 ERA. Worse news is that every single one of the starting pitchers who contributed to that number could be back next year. Any way that you want to break it out, the numbers are ugly and the prospect for next season looks grim. For instance, of the eight starters who started at least ten games for the team, five of them had an ERA over 5.00. That accounts for 84 starts made this year, a bit more than half of the season started by pitchers who were seldom competitive. Not surprisingly for a team whose starters struggled so much, the Orioles rotation also threw among the fewest innings of all American League staffs. Their 886 innings pitched ranked 12th of 15 AL teams. They would have needed to throw 30-35 more innings to be merely average. Those extra innings were chewed up by pitchers like Odrisamer Despaigne and T.J. McFarland, who were even worse than the starters. Worse still is that of those 5+ ERA pitchers, three of them are on the payroll for a combined $33 million for next season. There won’t be many good starting pitching options in free agency this offseason, and even if there were, the Orioles would likely not be able to afford them due to carrying dead weight. That’s the bad news. Well, some of it. There is also good news. The Orioles made the playoffs this year even despite this horrible rotation. It’s both uplifting and frustrating that the O’s could have possibly won the AL East with an average rotation. Safe to say that there’s plenty of room for improvement. Are they going to be able to coax that improvement out of the same bunch of people? The new pitching coach, whoever he is, will have some work to do. But there is a decent reason to believe the Orioles could have at least 60% of a good starting rotation. Not a bad starting point for improvement. Pitchers who may actually be good Chris Tillman After a disappointing 2015 season where Tillman was in the category of those near-5 ERA strugglers, he looked more like the better version of himself from 2012-14 this season. Tillman was pitching well enough and getting lucky enough that “Can Chris Tillman win 20 games?” was a thing that didn’t seem outlandish to discuss, at least until late July. Shortly after that, Tillman went on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis, and even after returning from that DL stay, he didn’t look like his best self, including in the AL Wild Card game. O’s fans can only hope that sort of injury is precisely the thing you need an offseason to clear up, and that it won’t come back next year. And this part was supposed to be the good news! Kevin Gausman In the second half of the season, coincidentally (probably) arriving along with his decision to turn into Evil Goatee Gausman, the Orioles finally saw something of the pitcher they were hoping they were getting with the #4 pick in 2012. From the beginning of August to the season’s end, Gausman posted a 2.83 ERA in 12 starts, holding batters to a .685 OPS. Gausman pitched at least six innings in 11 of those 12 starts and he went seven or more innings in four of them. Is that the real Gausman? If that guy shows up to spring training and sticks around all of next year, that’s one spot locked down. The enigma, Dylan Bundy Believing that the Orioles could have 60% of a good starting rotation requires a lot of faith in Bundy being an answer to the O’s problems. That’s asking a lot for a guy who just put up a 4.52 ERA in his 14 starts and only went six or more innings in three of those starts. Are the Orioles even going to open the season with Bundy in the rotation? It seems like too much to believe he can make 30+ starts next season when he only threw 109.2 innings this year. And even if he’s healthy, he’ll be having to keep learning on t[...]

Monday Bird Droppings



Looking at future Birds and maybe a former one...

Things are mostly quiet in Birdland. The World Series, as I'm sure you've heard, is lousy with ex-Orioles, mostly on the Cubs and you may be familiar with this Miller chap on the Indians.There are 161 days until Opening Day. I can't stand it,

MLB Rumor Central: Dom Chiti to leave Baltimore Orioles? - MLB Rumor Central- ESPN
Not a whole lot here, but, yeah...for your consideration. One more thing on the front office's plate.

A look at two of the most improved players on the O's farm - Steve Melewski
Could Jimmy Yacabonis make it to the bigs next year?

More on Mancini and the possibility of playing the outfield - School of Roch
Mancini's power might play...will his glove?

Sunday Notes: DH Dilemma, Indians, Gallardo, Glasnow, HoF Managers, more | FanGraphs Baseball
Yovani Gallardo on hitting. I know...

Jackie Robinson passed away on this day in 1972. He was 53 years old. Eddie Murray drove in the winning run as the Indians picked up their first World Series win on this day in 1995. Dustin Pedroia became the first person to lead off a World Series game with a homer for the first time since Don Buford did it in 1969 on this day in 2007.

it's the birthday of Dave "Father of Steve" Johnson. In addition to the current work he does for the Orioles Radio Network, Johnson made 57 starts for the O's, including 14 for the "Why Not?" team of 1989. Arthur Lee Rhodes celebrates a birthday today, as well. Rhodes was a mediocre starter, that converted to the bullpen and went on to pitch in 238 games for the O's over 9 years...then became REALLY effective and pitched in 311 more for the Mariners and 900, all told.

Sunday Bird Droppings



Should the Orioles trade Brad Brach? Those are the types of questions that are pondered when your team isn't in the World Series.

Whole Lotta Nothin' Going On

Should the Orioles think about trading Brad Brach? | CSN Mid-Atlantic
Dan Duquette has been reluctant to trade players the year before free agency. Brad Brach's two years away. Does it make sense to trade him?

Notes on pitching prospects Garcia, Scott, Sedlock and Akin - School of Roch
Double-A Bowie Baysox pitching coach Alan Mills gives his thoughts on some of the pitchers in the Orioles' system.

I Will Remember You

Orioles Staffer Remembered At Breathe Deep Baltimore Lung Cancer Walk " CBS Baltimore
The Orioles hosted the event in memory of their late public relations director Monica Barlow, who lost her life to lung cancer in 2014.

Bird Is The Word

Local Roundup: Orioles win MIAC title | Collegiate |
It is the editorial policy of this blog to celebrate any team named Orioles, and the Maryland School For the Deaf won its conference title in volleyball this weekend. Go Orioles!

Birthdays and History

Happy Birthday to former Oriole Denny Bautista. He shares this birthday with famous people including 63 BC Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Roman general; 1869 John Heisman, American pioneering football coach/trophy namesake; 1925 Johnny Carson, comedian and talk show host; 1940 Pelé, soccer player of the century; 1942 Michael Crichton, novelist; 1956 Dwight Yoakam, country singer; 1959 Weird Al Yankovic, songwriter; 1962 Doug Flutie, CFL/NFL quarterback; 1976 Ryan Reynolds, Canadian actor. Deadpool's 40, y'all.

On this day in Baltimore baseball history...nothing much happened.

On this day in world history...

1915 - Approximately 25,000 women demanded the right to vote with a march in New York City, NY.

1929 - In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged starting the stock-market crash that began the Great Depression.

1946 - The United Nations General Assembly convened in New York for the first time.

1962 - During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. naval "quarantine" of Cuba was approved by the Council of the Organization of American States (OAS).

1973 - U.S. President Richard M. Nixon agreed to turn over the subpoenaed tapes concerning the Watergate affair.

2001 - NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft began orbiting Mars. In 2010, it became the longest-operating spacecraft ever sent to Mars.

Consider this your discussion space for NCSA Softball: George Mason at Maryland.

Saturday Bird Droppings


Only one baseball game today, and it doesn't include the Orioles. C'est la vie. I Read The News Today, Oh, Boy... Orioles Rank Third In ESPN MLB Ultimate Standings " CBS Baltimore"ESPN has been asking fans to vote on their favorite teams for the past 13 years, and then they rank them, all 122 sports franchises, from top to bottom. Last year the Orioles saw their highest overall ranking in Ultimate Standings history, but the Birds soared even higher this time around." What moves can return the Orioles to postseason in 2017? | CSN Mid-AtlanticIt’s not Dan Duquette’s way to try and outbid other teams, but there are so many good hitters that perhaps one or two of these names, or ones from the second tier fall into the Orioles’ price range. Letter: Enough of Duquette giving away Orioles talent - Carroll County Times"I wonder how many sports fans are tired of hearing about all the great moves Orioles general manager Dan Duquette has made during his time with the Orioles? Are you as tied as I am seeing one of the worst starting staffs in all of baseball?" As Bill Simmons used to say, "These are my readers." A few more health updates - School of RochOrioles outfielder Joey Rickard and pitcher Darren O'Day will both avoid surgery in the off-season for their various ailments. Not so sure about Chris Davis. Thoughts on former Orioles in this NLCS - BaltimoreBaseball.comDan Connolly shares his memories of the ex-Orioles still playing baseball in the NLCS. Seriously, that's it. The Sun might have some more stuff, but they aren't playing nicely with SBNation's news aggregator software, so screw 'em. Birthdays and History Happy Birthday to Darren O'Day, and former Orioles Eli Whiteside, Hector Carrasco, Keith Osik, and Jamie Quirk. They share this birthday with famous people including 1811 Franz Liszt, Hungarian romantic composer and virtuoso pianist; 1907 Jimmy Foxx, Hall of Fame baseball from the Eastern Shore of Maryland; 1920 Timothy Leary, Harvard professor and LSD activist; 1949 Stiv Bators, American musician (The Dead Boys); and 1968 Shaggy [Orville Richard Burrell], reggae rapper. On this day in Baltimore baseball history... not much happened. On this day in world history... 1633 Battle of Liaoluo Bay: Dutch East India Company defeated by Chinese Ming naval forces in southern Fujian sea 1721 Tsar Peter the Great becomes "All-Russian Imperator" 1879 Thomas Edison perfects carbonized cotton filament light bulb 1884 International Meridian Conference in Washington, D.C. adopts Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) worldwide, creating 24 international time zones with longitude zero at the Greenwich meridian 1907 Panic of 1907: A run on Knickerbocker Trust Company stock leads to US wide run on banks 1962 US President John F Kennedy imposes naval blockade on Cuba, beginning the missile crisis. Consider this your discussion space for NCAA Football: Michigan State at Maryland. [...]

Thanks to Manny, Orioles remain #blessed at third base


His imperfect second half to 2016 shouldn’t disqualify Manny Machado from having further established himself as one of baseball’s best overall players. Funny enough, I received a random text from my dad the other day saying a family friend of ours “thinks (Nolan) Arenado is better than Machado.” Granted, the conscious bias from both sides wasn’t going to shy away from the fight. I responded the only way I know how by saying there was probably an argument to be had in regards to their respective offensive games, but defense? Pssssssh, man! In the spirit of anonymity, we’ll call our friend Billy, or Mr. Walker, or Mr. Billy Walker, a retired Air Force Brigadier General who surprisingly, with so much background in the spirited defense our country, can’t recognize the same on a baseball diamond. Yes, Arenado does have three Gold Gloves in his first three years, and is likely to add a fourth this season. Mr. Walker also claims Arenado was named the best defensive player in baseball by his fellow players, though said poll doesn’t appear to exist on these very internets (insert thinking face emoji). Arenado racked up an awesome 20 DRS over at third base compared to Machado’s 13, but Manny also played 380 innings at shortstop in J.J. Hardy’s absence, where he tallied an extra three defensive runs saved. Machado trounces Arenado in UZR, where his combined 12.3 nearly doubled Arenado’s 6.2, and if we’re talking jaw-dropping plays, Inside Edge’s remote fielding tabulations, where a player is given a 1-10% chance of making a presented play, calculates Machado’s 11.5% conversion rate on remote plays again borders the line of duplexing Arenado’s 5.9%. Simply put, Manny gets to balls that Arenado doesn’t, and he makes the plays that Arenado’s range doesn’t afford him the opportunity of even attempting. And if we want to talk about the ole eye test, Manny’s relative ease in versatility, effort and arm make the 24 year-old the kind of superstar the Orioles have envied for the first decade-plus of this millennium. At the expense of Mr. Walker, this friendly debate over not only two of baseball’s best third basemen, but overall players, perfectly transitions into just how good Manny Machado was yet again manning baseball’s hottest of corners. A Tale of Two Halves Entering this season after breaking out to a .286/.359/.502 slash with 35 home runs and 86 RBIs a season ago, Machado came blistering out of the gates over the course of the first three months. Totaling a first-half .318/.375/.569 line accompanying 19 home runs and 53 RBIs, Machado’s 4.3 fWAR was fifth-best in all of baseball to that point, while his 147 wRC+ was 12th-highest. Reminiscing on his 2013 season, Machado trailed only Big Papi in doubles (29) prior to the break. Mixing in his defensive wizardry with a still-budding offensive approach, Machado’s early MVP candidacy was not only legitimate, but realistically attainable. Then again, there’s a reason why the MVP isn’t decided in July. Machado saw his numbers buckle in the second-half, much like Yordano Ventura on the top of the mound at Camden Yards. Slashing .266/.309/.492 with 18 home runs and 43 RBIs, Manny continued to flash the consistent power, but his overeagerness at the plate saw his on-base numbers shrink. Machado’s strikeout rate flatlined throughout the year, hovering right at 17.3%, but his walk rate dwindled from 8.0% through July to 5.6% through the end of the year. Finding a source of hope, Machado’s BABIP crashing to from .346 in the first-half to .268 the rest of the year can certainly be attributed to his offensive stagnation, but Manny’s 2.2 second-half fWAR was still eight-best among all qualified third basemen, a credit to his maintained power and defense combo. Still, Machado was a much more active swinger this year, raising his swing rate from 43.1% a year ago to [...]

Friday Bird Droppings: Brach recovering after stealth surgery



So, the World Series is totally going to end up being Cleveland and Chicago, right? One way or another, some sad sack city that hasn't won a title in years is going to prevail. Good for them. Who do you think feels worse about letting Terry Francona go? Philadelphia or Boston?

Brach undergoes minor procedure on left knee - School of Roch
No worries. Nope.

Heyman - MLB Replay System Needs To Be Redefined
Don't expect Jon Heyman to carry Rob Manfred's water....

Camden Depot: Cup of jO's: Is Hyun Soo Kim Really A Platoon Hitter? #FreeKim

Next season is crucial for Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy | CSN Mid-Atlantic
"J.J. Hardy has been a dependable shortstop for the Orioles for the past six seasons. Can he keep going longer than just next season?" Presuming the O's can find adequate cover at the hot corner, the J.J.- Manny powershare wasn't a terrible arrangement.

Not really a momentous day in Orioles history and the only O's birthday I can come up with is Valmy Thomas, who played a whopping eight games for the O's in 1964.