Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Manny Machado to make MLB debut Thursday, Bundy to Bowie

August 8, 2012

With O’s fans still riding high just hours after the team completed a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners – a game that included the feel-good story of pitcher Steve Johnson recording his first major league win 23 years to the day after his father did the same with the Birds – the organization shocked everybody with the following announcement:

ORIOLES PLAN TO SELECT CONTRACT OF INF MANNY MACHADO FOR TOMORROW NIGHT’S GAME

The Orioles announced after tonight’s game that they plan to select the contract of INF MANNY MACHADO from Double-A Bowie before tomorrow night’s game against Kansas City. He will be making his major league debut.

Machado, 20, has batted .266/.352/.438 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI in 109 games with the Baysox this season, including a .275/.365/.505 line in 91 at-bats since the All-Star break.

The Orioles’ first round selection (#3 overall) in the 2010 First Year Player Draft out of Brito Private School in Miami, FL, Machado came into 2012 rated as the #2 prospect in the Orioles organization and the #11 prospect overall by Baseball America. He played in the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City in July, going 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored.

Machado was a 2011 South Atlantic League All-Star. Machado entered play on Wednesday a career .263/.343/.428 hitter in 218 minor league games over three seasons (2010-2012).

Honestly, nobody saw this one coming. The team has won five games in a row and the offense seems to be largely coming alive (finally). J.J. Hardy obviously isn’t going anywhere. While Machado could be used to give Hardy a day off here and there down the stretch, it seems more likely that he will see the majority of his playing time at third base.

While Wilson Betemit has had a strong left-handed bat all season for the Birds, his defense at the hot corner has left quite a bit to be desired. Robert Andino can play a much better third base than Betemit can, but his offensive skills aren’t up to par with what a contending team needs from a corner infielder.

So what is Buck’s plan for Machado? Play him at 3B against only left-handed pitching? Play him every day and force Betemit to DH? In the latter case, that would force Chris Davis out to left field, after he’s been settling fairly nicely into the DH role here the past couple weeks.

If Davis moves out to left field with Machado at 3B, it would seem that the O’s will only upgrade their infield defense at the expense of their outfield defense, now that Nate McLouth can play LF.

And why would the organization bring up their second-highest ranked prospect only to sit the bench or play in a platoon role? Wouldn’t he be much better served to continue to rack up at bats in the minors?

I don’t have answers to these questions. Like I said, everybody was caught off guard by this, me included. Let’s just sit back and watch what unfolds.

In other news, the team also announced that their top-ranked prospect, pitcher Dylan Bundy, will make the move to AA Bowie. Bundy is scheduled to pitch the first game of a double-header next Tuesday at Prince George’s Stadium. First pitch is at 6:05.

Ch-Ch-Changes at the Nest

March 5, 2012

I know there’s been a dearth of posting around here lately, and I apologize. There is, however, a very good reason. Let me explain…

The times, they are a-changin’ here at B’More Birds’ Nest. When I started this blog way back in September of 2007, it was just a fun way to vent about the Ravens, who had just lost an incredibly frustrating game to the Cincinnati Bengals to start the season. No Ravens fan had ever heard of Joe Flacco or Ray Rice. I think my parents read the blog, along with perhaps two or three of my close friends.

Four and a half years later, thanks in great part to the help of Nick-a-What?!, the site has grown just about as much as we could have possibly hoped for. We were featured in the Baltimore Sun in January 2009, voted Baltimore’s Best Ravens blog last fall, and we’re coming off of five of our best six months in terms of page views in the site’s history. Hell, because of this blog, Goob and I went into a Best Buy in August of 2010 and spent $130 on an open-box flip cam that led directly to us being able to attend Super Bowl 45 and hang out with Ray Rice on Media Row for an entire afternoon.

What more can I ask for than that?

Well, when I started out, I figured the absolute best case scenario was that this blog would be one of the 0.000001% of all websites that grows to the point that it can financially support its writer. While we made a little bit around here, it’s not nearly enough to live on. The next best case scenario would have been to parlay my writing at this blog (which, hopefully, has improved over the years) into a paying gig covering sports in some way shape or form.

It’s that second scenario that may be entering “dream come true” status. Goob has managed to turn GOOBVISION into something that people absolutely love and crave, and he has taken off to ProFootball24x7.com (and Ravens24x7.com). I hope to be a valuable contributor to 24/7 as well. As a result, my Ravens efforts will now be found exclusively at Ravens 24/7. The plan is to continue to put together regular articles over there, including fan favorites from the Nest such as Lookalikes!, Play Like a Raven, and Nick-a-What’s awesome photoshops (when he gets a chance – the time he has available to devote to the site has greatly decreased as well lately, as he started a new job and has two young children).

BMoreBirdsNest.com will still be right here, though – just without the Ravens stuff. I’m not abandoning the site – I’ll continue to post on the Orioles when the mood strikes me, as well as on other topics that I haven’t touched on here in the past such as Maryland Terrapins basketball, lacrosse, and football. In short, it will be more of a personal sports blog. I’ll still call the blog B’More Birds’ Nest; the name is near and dear to me, and I can’t tell you how much I love that logo. I know I’ll lose a good chunk of my reader base, which is composed of rabid, die-hard purple and black fans just like me – I hope each and every one of you will find your way to Ravens 24/7 (if you aren’t already there) – but I hope most of you will stick around even after things change and talk about other sports with us here. In addition to talking Ravens at 24/7, you can still find me on Twitter as well, where I’ll gladly defend Joe Flacco until I’m purple in the face against any and all comers.

It’s been an absolute blast talking Ravens with all of you here at the Nest – from UnbiasedGuy to Scott to Matt to even good old Christmas Ape, thanks to all our regular commenters for keeping things lively. I can’t think of any better use of my time over the past 4.5 years than the writing and interaction here. I can’t wait for more of the same over at 24/7. And remember, I’ll still be posting here – O’s, Terps, shit, even Capitals if you guys want (though I’m not really a fan).

I’m taking my Ravens talents, as they say, to South Beach (or, more accurately, Ocean City beach – where 24/7 meetings regularly occur).

GOOBVISION – I'm Coming Home

February 16, 2012

And now, for a very special announcement. After five years in Raleigh, North Carolina – the last two of which he spent providing us with his hilarious videos – Goob is finally coming back home to B’More. Not only that, but he is going to continue giving Ravens fans exactly what they want, but on a much larger stage.

I’ll let Goob explain…

Our little Goober is all grown up! He’s come a long way from his first video here at the Nest, and I have no doubt he’s destined for big things with Ravens 24×7. And don’t worry, he and I aren’t completely divorcing from our blogging bromance – that’s an announcement for another day though. For now, let’s all celebrate the RETURN OF GOOB!

Rumor or Best Rumor Ever? O's "Quietly" for Sale

February 15, 2012

The dream of all O’s fans has long been for owner Peter Angelos to sell the team. It’s widely agreed upon that the only way the Baltimore Orioles will EVER be respectable again is for sweeping change that starts at the very top of the organization. Well, one Washington, D.C. radio personality has apparently heard a rumor that will make even the most jaded orange and black faithful perk up a bit.

According to Eric Bickel (that’s “EB” for those of you familiar with the Junkies – who used to be in Baltimore on 99.1 WHFS), “It’s my understanding that the Baltimore Orioles are quietly for sale. Peter Angelos is actively selling the team at least privately to some people around him.”

Bickel had more details:

Bickel says that Angelos’ agreements with the Nationals and MASN have a minimum sale price for the Orioles franchise.  ”My understanding is that the number that was being floated around last night was $365 [million].”  He added that this asking price “isn’t enticing” to potential buyers because Angelos wants to retain the TV rights.

Wouldn’t it be just like ol’ Greedy Petey to sell the team, but hold onto MASN, his cash cow?

So in that scenario, I guess the new owners would have no access to the team’s cable network, which is the organization’s main source of income?

Sounds super.

Anyway, no sense in getting all upset over the details at this point. After all, it is still just a rumor. And even if Pete somehow manages to sell the team but keep MASN, it would still be a huge step in the right direction. Getting the Angelos name off the Orioles would immediately bring back a good chunk of the disenfranchised fan base.

Let’s hope it’s not just a rumor, and that more evidence of a potential sale begins popping up sooner rather than later.

h/t Baltimore Sports Report

Ricky Williams Retires

February 7, 2012

On Tuesday, Ravens running back Ricky Williams announced his retirement from the NFL. Williams, 34, had stated following the AFC Championship game that he was feeling good after the season and was looking forward to coming back to the Ravens in 2012. However, after a few weeks to think about it, the veteran seems to have had a change of heart.

Williams has said in the past that he plans on going to medical school once his football days are over, with the ultimate goal of becoming a psychiatrist.

Through his Alma mater, the University of Texas, Williams released the following statement:

“The NFL has been an amazing page in this chapter of my life. I pray that all successive adventures offer me the same potential for growth, success and most importantly fun. I want to thank all my fans, teammates, coaches and supporters for the strength they’ve given me to overcome so much.”

Ricky ran for 444 yards on 108 carries for the Ravens this season as Ray Rice’s backup. His departure leaves the Ravens with a void to fill at backup running back, as the only RBs remaining on the roster other than Rice (assuming he is resigned this offseason) are 2011 seventh round draft pick Anthony Allen and undrafted Damien Berry, who will also be in his second season. It is highly doubtful that Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore front office will be comfortable entering the season with those two as the primary backups to Rice.

Williams, of course has “retired” from the NFL before, back in 2004 following a failed drug test. It’s entirely possible that the former Texas Longhorn, who marches to the beat of his own drummer, could change his mind again once the 2012 season approaches. In that case, the Ravens would likely be very open to letting Williams – who is still under contract for another year – rejoin the squad. In the meantime, though, they need to proceed as if #34 will not be back, and start looking for a more proven backup for Rice.

On a personal note, I’m sorry to see Ricky go. I’ve always been a fan of his, and grew to like him even more after watching the ESPN documentary “Run Ricky Run” a few years back. I was pumped when he joined the purple and black, and was in attendance when he scored his first Ravens touchdown against Houston in Week 6. However, football is far from the most important thing in Williams’ life, and I’m sure he’ll make good on the promise he made on his twitter account after news of his imminent retirement leaked:

“Thank you all, but this ain’t it, I’m gonna do something really special. ‘Be you and change the world,’

If this is it, I’m glad Williams finished his career in Charm City. If not, I’ll welcome him with open arms when he decides to return to again back up Rice.

O's Trade Jeremy Guthrie to Rockies, Get No Younger or Better

February 6, 2012

This morning, the Orioles traded pitcher Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies. Guthrie was engaged in arbitration hearings with the club, where he had reportedly submitted a salary number of over $10 million. According to the same report, the O’s submitted a number of 7.25 million; rather than try to bridge the gap, they shipped the veteran right-hander to Colorado.

Guthrie wasn’t an “ace” by any means, but he was easily the most reliable starter on the Baltimore roster. With the collection of unproven young guys and veteran journeymen constantly shuffling through the O’s rotation, Guthrie was a steady presence. He pitched 175 innings or more in each of his five seasons in Charm City, and went over 200 the last three years. Again, he wasn’t going to go out and consistently dominate, but Guthrie was at least a guy that you could run out there every fifth day and know that he would compete for you, and that he would very likely get into at least the sixth or seventh inning (a very rare feat for Baltimore starters these days), giving the bullpen what was always a much-needed rest.

At this point in his career though, “Gutz” costs money, and there is no room for that type of guy on the O’s roster.

So did the Orioles at least get some decent prospects from the Rockies in the deal?

Of course not.

What they got were two pitchers, Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, who are neither particularly young nor particularly talented or successful major leaguers.

Hammel, 29, has a career ERA of 4.99 in 115 career starts over six seasons.

Lindstrom, who turns 32 this week, has been a marginally effective bullpen guy over five seasons in the National League.

However, the O’s get both Hammel and Lindstrom combined for roughly what Guthrie would have cost them. Which, in their eyes, is perfect.

Confused about how the deal makes the team better? Well, have a look at this handy-dandy O’s decision-making flowchart, and that should clear things right up.

Pitchers and catchers report in six days.

Excited yet?

Suggs Wins AP Defensive Player of the Year

February 6, 2012

On Saturday, Ravens defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs was named as the Associated Press’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year for 2011. Suggs posted the best year of his nine-year career in Baltimore, with 14 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. He was the best player on the Ravens’ defense, which finished the year ranked third overall in the league. Unfortunately, he was a bit quiet in the postseason, as the Ravens barely squeaked by the Houston Texans in the divisional round before falling just short in New England in the AFC Championship.

Suggs was the third Raven to win the award, joining Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Since 2000, a Raven has won the award four times (Lewis 2000, 2003; Reed 2004; Suggs 2011). No other team has had more than two such awards in that span (Pittsburgh).

While Suggs freely admits that the season was a failure without the Lombardi Trophy, this is a nice individual accolade to help ease the pain.

Reports: Ravens to Hire Jim Caldwell as Quarterbacks Coach

January 30, 2012

Reports are surfacing this morning that the Ravens are set to hire former Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Jim Caldwell as quarterbacks coach.

Caldwell, 57, was the quarterbacks coach in Indy from 2002-2008. How much he actually had to do with the success of one of the greatest football throwers of all time is certainly up for debate.

My reaction to the news can best be summarized as:

 

Pagano Going to Indy Anyway, Cameron…STAYING?!

January 26, 2012

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Ravens’ season came to pretty much the most disappointing end possible on Sunday evening, now the offseason appears to be getting off to just as horrible of a start.

Entering the 2012 campaign, the #1 priority on the wish list of most Ravens fans is to see the team part ways with Cam Cameron and bring in a new offensive coordinator. A close second – as far as coaches go – would have been to retain defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who returned the team to their aggressive ways and led the unit to the #3 overall ranking in the NFL.

Well, it was reported late Wednesday afternoon that Pagano will be hired as the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, after just a single year as coordinator. While Pagano was expected to get a sniff or two from teams looking to hire head coaches, most in Baltimore assumed that he was not quite ready to make that particular jump, and that he would return to the Ravens.

Ready or not though, it seems as if the possibility of Pagano/Luck becoming the next Belichick/Brady was just too much for Pagano to pass up.

Chuck Pagano is going to Indianapolis, just without the Ravens.

With Chuck joining the ranks of Marvin Lewis, Jack Del Rio, Mike Singletary, Mike Nolan, and Rex Ryan as defensive coaches that Ray Lewis/Ed Reed have gotten head coaching gigs, linebackers coach Dean Pees – a former New England Patriots defensive coordinator – seems to be the favorite in the locker room to succeed him on Baltimore’s staff.

Damn it.

On the other side of the ball, things look to be developing in an even more frustrating manner this week. In the Baltimore Sun today, Mike Preston is saying that Cameron is likely to return in 2012.

Meanwhile, according to a league source, Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called the offensive assistants Wednesday morning and gave them instructions for the upcoming weeks, a sign that he will return next season.

Neither Cameron nor Ravens head coach John Harbaugh returned phone calls Wednesday night, but the source was confident that Cameron would serve in the same capacity with the only stipulation the Ravens hire a quarterbacks coach. Cameron served in both roles last season.

GAHHHHHHH WHYYYYYYYY?!

If you’re looking for someone to make some sense out of this, you’ll have to go elsewhere, because I am baffled. It was just last season that the team decided to FIRE quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn because they wanted Cameron and Joe Flacco to work more closely together. Now a year later they are deciding to keep Cam, only to throw another level of separation between him and Joe?

If you’re thinking “we’re spinning our wheels here, aren’t we?” I’m right there with you.

As fellow Ravens blogger extraordinaire Tony Lombardi points out over at Ravens 24×7, we really have no reason to believe that the offense will EVER improve from its current mediocre standing under Cameron.

Since Cam Cameron joined the Ravens coaching ranks in 2008, his offenses have ranked 18, 13, 22 and 15 overall in yardage. His passing offenses have ranked 28, 18, 20 and 19.

Prior to joining the Ravens and dating back to 2002 Cameron led offenses ranked 16, 14, 10, 10, 4 and 28 overall and 22, 19, 16, 12, 16 and 24 passing.

Is there any real evidence there that might suggest that Cameron can pilot even an above average offense or passing attack?

No, Tony, there’s not.

And I’ll tell you this – if this organization does indeed decide to retain Cameron, I will – for the first time that I can remember – lose a bit of respect for everybody involved, from owner Steve Bisciotti down to head coach John Harbaugh.

Can Cameron. Just do it.

 

Ed Reed Calls Out Ravens Offense

January 17, 2012

As if the fan base (or at least a very vocal minority of it) wasn’t already uneasy enough entering Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts, we have a key member of the defense now basically calling out the offense.

In comments to Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, Reed had the following to say (disclaimer: these comments are from the Pro Football Talk “distilled” version. PFT loves to make issues where there are none, so there could definitely be more context here that they are conveniently omitting):

“I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense,” Reed said.  “They had a lot of guys in the box on him.  And, I mean, they were getting to him.  I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball.  I don’t know how much of the play calling, he could have made audibles or anything like that, checks or whatnot, man, but it just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past.  You know, it was just kind of like they was telling him to do, throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys.  And he can’t play like that.

“You know, one particular play that sticks out to me is when Ray Rice came out of the backfield, he got pushed down and [Flacco] still threw him the ball and you got one-on-one with Torrey Smith on the outside.  But it’s hearsay for me.  I can say that sitting on the sidelines, you know, or sitting in the stands.  You just never know what somebody else is seeing.”

Reed also called out the line, a little.

“[T]he offensive line gotta block better,” Reed said.  “You know, they gotta communicate better, gotta pick up blocks, Joe’s gotta get the ball out of his hand.  We gotta do a good job of using our weapons.  I think Ricky Williams should have had the ball a little bit more yesterday.  You know, I mean, Ray Rice was running it, too, but you gotta be able to mix those guys in back and forth.  It’s a lot of things that we all need to correct going into New England because they do such a great job of making adjustments, you know, in-game adjustments.  It’s not just coming up with a scheme and playing the game.  You gotta be able to make adjustments while the game is in the flow.”

There are a couple ways to take this. Ed could be simply showing his offense some “tough love,” challenging them to raise their game this weekend.

At the same time, though, it seems like a very weird time for even tough love, especially publicly. Ed Reed is my favorite Raven of all-time, but I can’t deny that good things rarely come out of his mouth when he opens it up and spouts off over the last few years. He’s always been a goofy guy, and the timing of these comments is nothing if not goofy.

On top of that, what exactly did he want Joe to do? Aren’t quarterbacks who “just get rid of the ball” willy-nilly exactly the kind of player that have boosted Ed’s interception stats throughout his career?

And even if his intent was – as some may suggest – to have called out the coaches or offensive line more than calling out Joe, still, what’s the point? Do it in the building, not on some radio show.

The Ravens won the game. And while they’ll undoubtedly need a much-improved offensive effort on Sunday, they’ll also need to protect the ball as they did against Houston (0 turnovers).


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