Archive for the ‘Orioles’ Category

O's re-sign McLouth

December 5, 2012

After the O’s wild postseason ride ended, one of the first questions fans were asking is “What will the O’s do with Nate McLouth?”

McLouth, after all, had been the team’s best hitter during the postseason, when it seemed that the state was too big for most everybody on the team except him.

Right here at the Nest, Phil Backert said the O’s SHOULD bring back McLouth, just not with a lucrative, multi-year contract.

If McLouth stayed on his pace with the O’s he would have shattered his career high in stolen bases and come close in the other categories.  Since the 2008 season, McLouth hit 20 homeruns one time, never batted .260 or higher until his stint in Baltimore, and never collected 20 stolen bases.  The big kicker is he hasn’t played in more than 130 games since that All-Star season.  The hope is McLouth lost his way for 2 ½ seasons and he is back to being the player he was in his mid-20’s.

The Orioles don’t have the luxury at this point to go on hope.  I can see McLouth asking for 3 years at around 5 million a year.  He will probably settle for two years, but he will want the guarantee to start.  The O’s will be comfortable having him compete for a spot and at worst they have a great 4thoutfielder.  They run the risk, however, of another team thinking he is the player he was at 26 and paying him handsomely.

Well Phil, you got your wish.

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, multiple sources are reporting that the O’s have indeed re-signed McLouth, and that the deal is for just one year.

According to multiple sources, the Orioles and the 31-year-old left fielder have agreed to a one-year deal. There is no option involved.

The Orioles haven’t announced the deal, but it is reportedly worth $2 million with $500,000 in performance bonuses.

I have no problems whatsoever with this signing – if you ask me, it’s very Ravens-esque: Right Player, Right Price. McLouth will be great to have as a fourth outfielder, and is a solid insurance policy should Nolan Reimold’s injury-prone ways continue in 2013. Especially if Nate can continue the career resurrection that he saw during the last month-plus of the season, an outfield of Nick Markakis/Adam Jones/Nolan Reimold/Nate McLouth is one that should be just fine.


O's wise to part ways with Reynolds

December 3, 2012

I don’t know if I have ever seen more of an outcry from a fan base on the release of a player that hit .221 and struck out 36% of his at bats in his two-year stint in Baltimore, but that is what has happened with Mark Reynolds. His ability to hit moon shot homeruns and catch pop-ups while tumbling over the field tarp catapulted Reynolds into a fan favorite that many fear will be hard to replace in 2013.  I am on the side that the Orioles can and have to do better than Reynolds if they want to play October baseball again.

The reality, which was clearly evident during their series against the New York Yankees, is that the O’s struggled to make consistent contact and play team baseball and it resulted in averaging two runs a game and batting .187 in the 5-game series.

Obviously, this is not all Reynolds’ fault. He only gets to bat four times a game, so this is a team issue that needs to be addressed and has been a point of emphasis since Dan Duquette joined the organization. However, consider the price it would have taken to keep Reynolds, along with the contract commitments to Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy, while adding in the cheap contracts of Matt Wieters and Chris Davis; Reynolds was going to be the odd man out.

Between these five guys, they combined to strikeout 672 times.


Robert Andino’s trade to Seattle was the first sign that the Orioles are trying to move away from the free swingers and Reynolds becoming a free agent is the second.  There isn’t much the O’s can do about the four other guys, but at least in Jones’ and Davis’ cases, they hit for a higher average. I think the O’s are looking at it from the standpoint of, if they can replace Reynolds with a player who hits for a higher average and still draws walks, than they can compensate for the four other guys.  It was just too difficult when 5-6 guys on every given night were capable of striking out a couple of times.

Reynolds has always been a head-scratcher to me. How can a guy who can hit the ball so far and draw as many walks as he does, bat for such a low average and look lost at the plate in long stretches?  This is why Buck Showalter batted him 7th on most nights. A power hitter that walks as much as he does should not bat so low in the order, but his inability to put the ball in play enough or make productive outs made it impossible to trust him in the middle of the order.

The main argument for keeping Reynolds is his defense at first.  He stabilized an awful defensive team when he became the everyday first baseman.  I can’t really argue this point. It seemed like every night he made a play that you just shook your head at and couldn’t believe what he just did.  He always put the team first and played through injuries.  His freak out in Detroit will always be one of my favorite moments of the enjoyable 2012 season, but October exposed the weaknesses of this baseball team.  Duquette and Showalter understand that a lot went right for them and they must improve the ballclub to not only get back to October, but this time to advance.

Unfortunately, it appears the fan-favorite Reynolds is going to be at the expense of that.

Winter Meetings Thoughts

The MLB Winter Meetings kicked off on Monday with the biggest announcement being the offseason hip surgery to Alex Rodriguez.  I am curious to see what the O’s do.  Last year, the “big” move the Orioles made was drafting Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5 draft.  I think they are more active this time around with Duquette being in the organization for an entire year.  He has said repeatedly they aren’t signing a high-priced free agent and their best route to improving the team and the lineup is through a trade.

If that is the case, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman, and Jake Arrieta better keep their cell phones close and not buy any Oriole gear for their families this Christmas.  The only way the O’s can improve the lineup is by trading from that group, especially when Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, and Kevin Gausman are off the table, and rightfully so.

The Orioles have drafted pitching over the last few years to position themselves for this.  Duquette has even admitted that they have a surplus of arms and with Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter appearing to find their niche in the bullpen, the O’s may feel it is time to move a couple of the guys who were once part of the cavalry.  With Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez having more success in a shorter time and Bundy along with Gausman being on the fast-track to the big leagues, the organization should feel more comfortable about letting go some of their young arms.

Stop asking Jim Johnson about starting

November 28, 2012

I think we can finally put the “Would Jim Johnson make a good starting pitcher?” questions to bed for good.

Johnson, who set an Orioles record with 51 saves last season, has been quoted in the past as saying he would like to be a starter. It’s been a topic of discussion for several years, with even the great Jim Palmer endorsing J.J. as a starter on several occasions.

However, it appears as if it’s time to accept that “Nails” is going to be comfortably occupying the closer’s role in Baltimore, and is no longer staring longingly at the starting rotation.

Johnson was on 105.7 The Fan this afternoon with Bob Haynie and Mark Zinno, and was none too happy when Zinno began a question with “You’ve said – on this show and elsewhere – that you’d like to be a starter…”

J.J. was immediately heard mumbling something. When Zinno stopped his question to ask Jim what he said, J.J. replied with a gruff “I thought we were done with these questions.”

Things got awkward for just a split second, as Zinno quickly moved on to his next question.

However, the interview only got worse.

Later on, after Haynie asked J.J. about the Toronto Blue Jays’ blockbuster trade (Johnson admitted that he wasn’t 100% sure which players changed teams), Zinno asked Johnson about the Orioles’ record in one-run and extra inning games in 2012. The O’s, of course, were phenomenal in those types of games, and Zinno’s question revolved around how the team could “bridge the gap” and reach the postseason again without having to win a historical amount of games by the skin of their teeth.

J.J.’s reply? (And I’m paraphrasing)

“Man, you  guys are really catching me off guard here. I didn’t know [the interview] was going to be like this.”

After the interview wrapped up, Zinno stood by his questions. Personally, I see nothing wrong with either question.

However, be warned radio and podcast hosts – stop asking Jim Johnson about starting.

Here’s the link to listen to the interview:


Showalter loses out on Manager of the Year

November 14, 2012

Despite pulling a moribund franchise from the depths of a 15-year losing streak and coming within one game of the American League Championship series, despite reversing a 69-93 record to 93-69, despite putting together the best record in one-run and extra inning games in recent memory, apparently O’s skipper Buck Showalter did NOT do enough to win the American League Manager of the Year award, according to the Baseball Writers of America.


Now, I’m not saying that Oakland manager Bob Melvin wasn’t a deserving candidate; he absolutely was. Melvin took a team that was supposed to finish at the bottom of the American League West and led them to a division title, a season culminating in a sweep of the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers in the final series to give the A’s their first AL West crown since 2006.

It’s just that Buck did MORE.

If the Yankees had tanked down the stretch like the Rangers did, instead of very impressively holding off the surging Orioles over the final month, maybe the AL East crown would have been enough to push Buck over the top. Still, the O’s made it just as far (Game 5 of the ALDS) in the playoffs as the A’s did, and just like the A’s, they had to beat Texas to get there (in the O’s case, the one-game Wild Card playoff, which was played in Texas, as opposed to the final OAK-TEX series, played in Oakland).

It was the A’s fifth postseason berth since 2000, and fifth since the Birds last finished .500 or better. Oakland has made a science out of getting a lot out of a little – hell, they just had a movie made about them doing just that (Moneyball, as opposed to the much more awesome but also much more fake BUCKYBALL).

A’s GM Billy Beane is the real hero in Oakland. Buck has pretty much single-handedly changed the culture in Baltimore since arriving in midseason 2010. While Dan Duquette did his part to finally give Buck some pieces to work with (an aside – Buck getting snubbed makes me even more angry that Duquette didn’t garner even a single vote for MLB Executive of the Year), where would the O’s be if they had instead hired Eric Wedge or Bobby Valentine (ughhhh) instead of Showalter?

Again – no disrespect to Mr. Melvin.

This was Buck’s award though.

I guess if the O’s want any respect from these national media a-holes, there’s only one thing left to do, Buck. (caution: language)

This fake Orioles movie needs to be a real thing

November 6, 2012

For the last several weeks, our friends over at Baltimore Sports Report have been doing a very fun little exercise where they choose the cast for “Buckyball: A True Underdog Story” (like Dodgeball), a movie that documents the Baltimore Orioles’ amazing 2012 season.

Some of the cast they have chosen include: Will Smith as Adam Jones, Neil Patrick Harris as Nate McLouth, Ben Affleck as Jim Johnson, and Buck Showalter as himself (because, come on…who could really do Buck justice?)

Anyway, there are now two fake trailers for this fake movie, and they are both amazing in their own right. The first is sure to give any O’s fan chills, while the second one is more likely to leave you with one of those huge goofy grins that I can’t stop referring to every time I look back upon this season.

Oh, and the second one also featured a surprise appearance by our very own Goob, so it got extra points in my book.

Check them out below:

O's pick up Ayala's option, decline Reynolds's

November 1, 2012

Yesterday, the Orioles made one contract move, as they exercised their $1 million option for right handed reliever Luis Ayala. Ayala – his inherited runner track record aside – was damn impressive out of the bullpen, pitching to a 2.64 ERA in 66 appearances.

However, it was the option that the club declined that has Birdland all atwitter today.

In a move that was widely expected, the club opted not to pick up the $11 million option on first baseman Mark Reynolds.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the 29-year old wont be back in 2013. In fact, Mark would prefer to stay.

“I love playing in Baltimore. I have a lot of friends on the team. I love playing for Buck and I love being in the city. Hopefully, I’m in a win-win situation here so that if they do want me back, hopefully we can work something out and I’ll be back playing for Buck and the O’s.”

The team can either take Reynolds to arbitration, or non-tender him and attempt to sign him as a free agent to a new contract. However, as Eduardo Encina points out, that may be risky if they really do want to keep him.

Reynolds said Wednesday he’d have to test the waters if he was non-tendered, and even though I believe Reynolds is true in saying he likes playing in Baltimore, allowing him to become a free agent is a risk.

The first baseman free-agent crop isn’t great. Carlos Lee is 36. Carlos Pena is 34. Both are coming off horrid seasons. James Loney’s stock has fallen dramatically.

Adam LaRoche, coming off a Gold Glove season in which he hit a career-high 33 homers, will be the cream of the first-base crop if he doesn’t re-sign with the Nationals. Nick Swisher can play first, but he figures to get a multiyear deal and he might not be a fit for the Orioles’ clubhouse.

So Reynolds might be one of the best available first basemen in the free-agent market, especially now that he’s established himself defensively at the position. While there aren’t too many teams looking for first basemen, the Orioles might be forced to offer a multi-year deal to retain Reynolds if they allow him to go on the market.

Personally, I’d like to see the team bring Reynolds back. While some fans (and I count myself in this group sometimes in the heat of the moment during games) pull their hair out over his strikeouts, the fact remains that even this season – a down year for him power-wise – he still led the team in walks and had the second highest OBP of any regular (.335 to Nick Markakis’s .363).

For a team that struggles mightily to get on base – the Birds were 11th in the AL in OBP – and whose GM is an OBP guy, jettisoning one of the few guys on your squad who knows how to take a walk probably isn’t the best way to improve.

And if Mark is serious about wanting to say in Baltimore, I think we have to assume that he’s finally let go of his whole “I still want to play third base” thing, right? With Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy (sporting his first Gold Glove), the team is set on the left side of the infield.

And as well as Reynolds played at first this season, one has to think that he’ll only get better.

So, Mark Reynolds – come on back at say, $7-9 million per year for 3 seasons?

I’ll take it.

Plus, how can you not love this guy? (0:34)

Orioles get another sweep, this time at Gold Glove award ceremony

October 31, 2012

Goldman Jones

Add a nice little exclamation point to the Birds’ magical 2012 season.

All three Orioles that were finalists at their position for Gold Glove awards – J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters – were declared the victors last night.

It was Hardy’s first Gold Glove, Wieters second (and second consecutive) and Jones’s second (first since 2009).

While it was no shock that Hardy took home the accolade, as mentioned here yesterday, I was a bit (happily) surprised that Wieters and Jones won. In addition to being kick-ass defenders, the O’s may have benefited a bit from their durability – Wieters played more games than any A.L. catcher (134), Hardy played in the most games he ever has in his career (158), and Jones was a mini-Iron Man, playing in all 162 contests.

While many expected Anaheim’s Mike Trout to take home the Gold Glove in center field, he likely suffered from two factors: being a rookie, and playing only 110 games in center field. It’s not uncommon to see deserving defenders get snubbed their first few times being nominated.

Regardless, I’m more than happy to be wrong this time around.

It was the first time the O’s won three Gold Gloves in a season since 1998.

Congrats to all three Birds!

Gold Gloves announced tonight, three Orioles are finalists

October 30, 2012

Just like last year, the Birds have three finalists for the Gold Glove award at their respective positions. Last season, it was Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, and Adam Jones that were the finalists, with Wieters and Markakis taking home their first such honors. Jones won the award in 2009, becoming the first Oriole since Mike Mussina in 1999.

Now it looks like the O’s are likely to have at least one Gold Glove winner for the third time in four years.

Wieters and Jones are again finalists, and joining them this time is shortstop J.J. Hardy.

It would be Hardy’s first Gold Glove, and the feeling here is that he absolutely deserves it. I agree fully with Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, who writes:

Also, it’s just one reporter’s opinion, but I believe Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will win his first career Gold Glove. Hardy, who made just six errors in 158 games, doesn’t have the flash that often gets recognized at the position, but he’s one of the most consistent fielders in the game. After Hardy led AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.990) last year, it’s time that his glove gets noticed.

Although Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan just won the Fielding Bible award for shortstop, Hardy led AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.992), assists (529), putouts (244), total zone runs (21) and range factor per game (4.89).

Ryan wasn’t in the top five in any of those categories, but he was named the top defender in all of baseball in the Fielding Bible awards, which are based intensely on sabermetrics. Ryan led major league shortstops with 27 runs saved, while Hardy had 18 and third finalist Elvis Andrus of Texas had eight. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, last year’s winner, isn’t a finalist this season.

While the Gold Glove is based on fielding, most players have recorded more offensive output than Ryan, who hit just .194 in 2012.

While Encina believes that Wieters will also win, I don’t feel as strongly that he is deserving. Wieters had 10 errors this year, five more than last year and more than any American League catcher. As Encina points out, he threw out 38.6 percent of potential base runners, which is more than any of the other finalists, but come on…how can the guy with the most errors win the Gold Glove award?

Jones is the long shot of the group, with the Angels Mike Trout likely to win the award for center fielders (the Gold Glove is now given by position in the outfield, as opposed to given to the best three overall outfielders).

The winners will be announced tonight at 9:30 on ESPN2.

What should the O's do with Nate McLouth?

October 26, 2012

Should the Orioles re-sign Nate McLouth?

The easy answer is “yes, of course.”

However, the real question should be; what role should the Orioles re-sign Nate McLouth for? As free agency approaches, this will be one of the bigger questions surrounding the Orioles besides finding help at second base and adding depth to the pitching staff.

After being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of May and playing 47 games with the Norfolk Tides, McLouth was finally given the opportunity to play for the Orioles on August 4th.  In 55 games, while hitting third and then first after Nick Markakis was lost for the season, McLouth batted .268 with seven homeruns and 12 stolen bases.  The stat that I love the most, however, was his .342 on base percentage.  Over the course of a full season, only Nick Markakis would have had a higher OBP.

For a team that finished 23rd in all of baseball with a .311 OBP, McLouth’s ability to get on base was much needed.  The 12 stolen bases were good enough for second on the team behind Adam Jones’ 16.  Again, this was while playing in one-third of the Orioles’ games. I can’t forget to mention that the team defense started to turn around with his arrival in left field and the .308 batting average during the playoffs.

If McLouth was to return to Baltimore and if Brian Roberts proves to be healthy for the first time since 2009, Buck Showalter would have three legitimate options to bat leadoff. Showalter would then be able to drop J.J. Hardy down in the lineup where he is better suited.  This will also give Showalter “length” to his lineup, something he constantly preaches about.

Bringing McLouth back is a no-brainer, but he will be looking for a multi-year contract and the guarantee to start.  I can’t blame him for that, but these are the reasons why the Orioles may be reluctant to do that:

The return of Nolan Reimold

Reimold’s return should not preclude the Orioles from signing McLouth. Reimold is a huge question mark himself and he will have to earn his way on the 2013 roster, but he was the Orioles best hitter until his season ended in late April.

The Orioles have said publicly that they still think Reimold can be a valuable asset to the team. Unless he becomes the everyday DH, Reimold will be getting the majority of his playing time in left field, which will impact McLouth.

It will be interesting to see how the Orioles handle this situation. If they go after McLouth and try to lock him up, it may mean the end of Reimold in Baltimore.  If they feel Reimold can be a contributor, than McLouth may be the odd man out.

McLouth will be 31 years old at the start of the season

McLouth is not going to get old overnight, but for a player that relies on speed, his age could make the Orioles hesitant to give McLouth a multi-year contract.  I don’t think this will be the reason the O’s don’t lock him up long-term, but at 31-years-old, McLouth is closer to being out of his prime than in it.  After eight seasons, McLouth is not going reinvent himself as a player. He is what he is and that is a good defender with a below average arm that has a career average of .248.  There are many players out there that provide what McLouth has done throughout his career.

The question the Orioles are asking themselves now is;

Did McLouth resurrect his career or just have a solid 3 months?

This is the most important question, and we will find out what the Orioles think in a few weeks.  The O’s extended Adam Jones earlier this year because they felt the best was yet to come and they did not want him to become too expensive that they couldn’t lock him up long-term. I can’t imagine Dan Duquette having the same mentality when it comes to McLouth.  You can make the argument that McLouth was on his way to having a career year.  Over 162 games, the projections would have been his best season since he was an All-Star in 2008.  That season, McLouth hit .276 with 26 homeruns, 23 stolen bases, 46 doubles and a .356 OBP.

If McLouth stayed on his pace with the O’s he would have shattered his career high in stolen bases and come close in the other categories.  Since the 2008 season, McLouth hit 20 homeruns one time, never batted .260 or higher until his stint in Baltimore, and never collected 20 stolen bases.  The big kicker is he hasn’t played in more than 130 games since that All-Star season.  The hope is McLouth lost his way for 2 ½ seasons and he is back to being the player he was in his mid-20’s.

The Orioles don’t have the luxury at this point to go on hope.  I can see McLouth asking for 3 years at around 5 million a year.  He will probably settle for two years, but he will want the guarantee to start.  The O’s will be comfortable having him compete for a spot and at worst they have a great 4th outfielder.  They run the risk, however, of another team thinking he is the player he was at 26 and paying him handsomely.

McLouth’s career was on the brink of being over before Duquette gave him another opportunity and he made the most of it.  He gave the team a spark it desperately needed when Markakis was injured and was the only consistent hitter during the playoffs.

Fans look at what he did in his time in Baltimore and forget that the Orioles were his third organization in two seasons.  I look at a guy who was motivated to prove one more time that he belonged in the big leagues.  I can’t ignore the previous 2 ½ seasons and hand the guy a starting job and sign him for a couple of seasons.  I would sign him to a one-year deal though and hope we are in the exact same situation a year from now then lock him up for 2-3 years and wonder how we will be able to unload his contract.

An incredible season comes to an end

October 19, 2012

This past week has been like pretty much every other MLB postseason in memory in a very noticeable way – we were reduced to cheering for the Evil Empire to be taken down.

Well, now that the New York Yankees have been summarily swept out of the postseason like the trash they are, we O’s fans can sit back and reflect on the Birds’ 2012 efforts. Efforts that, of course, culminated in a September and October that were unlike ANY in recent memory here in Birdland.

I spent the last several days on a road trip through the south (North Carolina and Tennessee) – a trip that I had planned many months ago, while the idea of ALCS games being played in Oriole Park at Camden Yards on these dates wasn’t anything that registered even the slightest hint of realistic possibility.

While the O’s Game 5 loss to New York last Friday night saved me having to cut my vacation short, it was also a bitter aftertaste on what had been an incredible, exhilarating season.

A season ending in postseason disappointment often takes several days for fans to recover from. It was a similar, but not exact, feeling to one we’ve experienced several times here in Baltimore recently thanks to the other team in town.

While our disappointment in the Ravens’ postseason failures lately has been excruciating due to the fact that we know they have absolutely been good enough to hoist another Lombardi Trophy, you’d have to still be quite drunk on the Orange Kool-Aid to think that the Birds would have fared any better against the Detroit Tigers than the Yankees did. Throw in that the St. Louis Cardinals again look like a team of destiny, and the O’s – all their magic aside – were the least likely of 2012 World Series Champions.

Still, looking back on the 2012 season will forever bring a huge goofy grin to the faces of Orioles fans.

During my travels through the south, I donned my cartoon bird hat with pride. People noticed, too.

The cartoon bird is a conversation starter now. From the barkeeper in Asheville who greeted me with a hearty “Go O’s!” to the cowboy boot shop clerk who shook my hand and said “it’s nice to have your baseball team back, isn’t it?” to the gentleman in the cigar bar who told me he played against Brian Roberts in college (“the best basestealer I’ve ever seen”), it was a blast to be talking O’s with strangers in October, and reflecting on positive events as opposed to lamenting another year added to the losing streak.

Every time I feel myself needing a pick-me-up this winter, I’ll go back and watch the O’s Wild Card game champagne celebration again.

I’ll be perusing the Orioles video page on on a regular basis.

And the September 6 game against New York will probably never be erased from my DVR.

It was an amazing, wonderful, joyous, and unexpected season in Birdland. I’m sad that it’s over, but like I said earlier – memories of it will forever bring a smile to my face.

Thanks for reading here at B’More Birds Nest this spring, summer, and fall. We’ll have some changes to announce moving forward, but for now I’ll just say that we’re assembling a crack team of writers with the goal of being the best Orioles blog out there.

Things are only going to get better – for our Birds and for our blog.

We hope you’ll stick with us through the winter. The Hot Stove will be heating up soon, and spring training really is right around the corner.

And if you want to grin like an idiot for the next five minutes, just click play.


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