Baltimore Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

The Baltimore Orioles apparently have an interest in RHP Alex Cobb, formerly of the Tampa Rays. This according to MLB Trade Rumors. Cobb has a career .350 ERA, a win percentage of .578, and gives up only 19 homers per year on average. All of this over six years in the big leagues.

Cobb has also been an Oriole-killer throughout that time period. Over six years, he’s only surrendered six home runs to Oriole bats. As a team, the O’s have hit .237 against Cobb when they’ve faced him. He also has a career .750 win percentage at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The Orioles may have identified a pitcher who’s played very well against them, AND one who according to the numbers would also pitch well in their home park. Now that’s only over seven games at Oriole Park, however that’s more games than he’s appeared at any other park in baseball over his career other than Tropicana Field. He’s also appeared at Fenway seven times.

Obviously the catch here is how much it’s going to potentially cost. MLB Trade Rumors didn’t list what Cobb is hoping to get in the way of a contract. Certainly we’re not talking Scherzer or Verlander-type money, however Cobb’s looking at a decent chunk of change wherever he ends up.

Cobb would certainly be an upgrade, and perhaps along with the likes of Bundy he could help to anchor a rotation that had no stability in 2017. That would be the hope, anyway. My personal opinion is that the Orioles should take the plunge and go for him. He’s familiar with the division, and you remove a potential threat from a division rival and add him to your roster. It would be a win-win.

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Baltimore Orioles sign Ryan O’Rourke

The Baltimore Orioles yesterday signed former Minnesota pitcher Ryan O’Rourke to a minor league deal. This is hardly a move that will make big waves on the free agent trackers, however O’Rourke is a southpaw. And the Orioles were looking to bolster their bullpen in that regard.

O’Rourke didn’t appear at the big league level this past season, which for him was plagued with injuries. He underwent surgery on his elbow back in May, which kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season. So in a sense he’s a reconstructive project for the Orioles. However at 29, he’s also in theory in the prime of his career – if you can say that at this point.

However O’Rourke has only appeared in 54 games at the big league level with Minnesota, over two seasons. In that time he has a 4.98 ERA. But on the flip side, he’s held hitters to a .198 average. So one would think he has a decent upside.

In the past I would have said that this was a “depth move,” and in fact it does have those markings. However as we all know, guys the Orioles sign to a minor league contract are just as likely to end up in the big leagues as anyone else. It’ll be interesting to see if O’Rourke gets an extended look in spring training. One way or the other, don’t be surprised to see a decent amount of him at Camden Yards in 2018.

Baltimore Orioles should consider trading Zach Britton

There have been numerous reports over the past 24 hours that the Baltimore Orioles are once again shopping closer Zach Britton. Count me as thinking that at the very leas tthey should consider trading him. For the right deal, that is.

Apparently the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are at least two of the teams who are interested. However regardless of who’s interested or not, the deal still has to be right for the Orioles to consider parting with a commodity like Britton. In other words, they need to fleece someone.

In the past I’ve used the term gut someone’s farm system. I’m not saying that here, because that would be above and beyond fleecing someone. I mean if you can get away with gutting someone’s farm system, go for it. But odds are you won’t. Not for a guy who pitches one inning, is in the final year of his contract, and went to the DL twice in 2017.

However dealing Britton could well help the Orioles to warm themselves over for 2018. I would say that the Birds should look for at least one top pitching prospect for someone of Britton’s caliber. Again, some will say I’m over-valuing Britton. But what did I say above? The deal has to be right.

If you can get a pitching prospect who’s either ready or close to being ready to go to the big leagues, do it. The Orioles are a team who needs pitching, and desperately at that. This would not only be a way to get some, but also a cheap way to do it.

Furthermore, while last year the bullpen was overused and thus broke down, we know the strength of the Oriole bullpen. I think the likes of Brach would slide into the closer’s role just fine. Losing Britton would be a loss for sure, but the bullpen would still be strong. And perhaps the starting rotation would get stronger as well.

Baltimore Orioles: Regarding Chris Davis at third

On Monday I floated the idea of having Chris Davis play third base starting in 2019 if the likes of Machado are elsewhere. This would allow Trey Mancini to slide into his normal position of first base. It would also allow lots of Machado’s would-be salary to be put into pitching for the ballclub. Needless to say, it’s an option.

The best answer for the Orioles is to have Machado guarding the hot corner on Opening Day, 2019. This leaves Davis at first, and Mancini in the outfield. However could an idea like this combined with outfield depth put the Birds in a bit of a stronger position from which to negotiate?

The Orioles have guys like Flaherty, Trumbo, Gentry, et al, all of whom can play the outfield. So removing Mancini from there, a spot which wasn’t natural to him to begin with, wouldn’t exactly create a hole. If anything it would help plug one. Both Mancini and Davis are first baseman. But Davis is also a decent third baseman. He’s not Manny, but he’s serviceable.

Point being that all of this might well come into the Orioles’ thinking when the time comes. Heck, it could come sooner than we think due to a scenario like this. Might the O’s consider “renting” Machado out for prospects knowing that they have their bases covered (no pun intended)?

The answer to that is anything is possible. And we’re going to find out as we get closer to February.

Baltimore Orioles’ Trey Mancini finishes third in rookie of the year vote

Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles finished in third place in the AL rookie of the year voting. NY’s Judge was the unanimous victor, with 30 first place votes. Boston’s Benintendi finished second.

The vote didn’t come as a surprise to nary anyone, as Judge had been talked about as a shoo-in for the award as far back as the all-star break. From Mancini’s standpoint it was an honor to be considered. And an even bigger honor to be a finalist.

Mancini of course made his mark on the Orioles this year. There was no guarantee that he was going to be on the opening day roster. However he played his way onto it in spring training. Furthermore the quality of his play came somewhat of a surprise given that he moved from his traditional spot at first base into the outfield.

The sky’s the limit for Mancini moving forward. Obviously this was his one shot at ROY, however the Orioles certainly hope he’s on his way to dazzling for years to come.

Baltimore Orioles: If Manny Machado leaves

Manny Machado is obviously a popular topic surrounding the Baltimore Orioles these days. Will he stay or will he go? Well before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget that the third baseman’s signed for the 2018 season. Unless they trade him (which I see as unlikely), he’ll be an Oriole next year.

But let’s say that one way or the other Machado does in fact bolt after 2018. Fans will be upset for sure, but the franchise itself would then have to focus on how to replace Machado in the field. You aren’t going to totally replace a glove like his, but you can try. And that could come from within – if you can believe that.

Chris Davis hasn’t just played some third base, but he’s actually a fairly decent third baseman. In 2012 Mark Reynolds was really struggling at third. Routine grounders were getting by him, and he was struggling on his throws. So the Orioles swapped him and Davis at the corner infield positions. It turned out that Reynolds was a decent first baseman – and Davis wasn’t too shabby at third.

Since then Davis has played some third base here and there. For his entire career, he’s spent 93 games guarding the hot corner, which granted is hardly a large sample size. His fielding percentage is .911, and he’s committed 17 errors. While those numbers would need to improve for Davis to play third routinely, I suspect that they would…if he played third routinely.

Davis is an Oriole because of his bat. However he’s shown over the years that he’s extremely flexible in terms of making acrobatic plays to save balls. So I think he could be a serviceable option at third base. And more importantly, it wouldn’t cost the Orioles anything and they could put that money into pitching.

So what then about first base? Well, is Trey Mancini not a first baseman?! While he’s played the outfield very well, the Birds could then return Mancini to his natural position, which again would save them a lot in salary. You don’t then have to take what you were paying Machado and find someone else to play third with that money. It can go directly into pitching.

I think the Orioles’ top idea would be to keep Machado. However if they cannot, there’s a potential fix, which again wouldn’t cost the team anything.

Baltimore Orioles: Do you make your own luck?

Similar to that of the Baltimore Orioles, the Maryland Terrapins’ (football) season is quickly slipping away from them. I sat down to watch yesterday’s game against Michigan and became quickly dismayed at the fortunes of the Terps. Perhaps you don’t expect much when you’re playing one of the most famous programs of all time. But I would have hoped for a better showing than a 35-10 loss.

Michigan flat out beat the Terps yesterday fair and square. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. But I watched as break after break went against Maryland. At one point the Terps converted on a third down with a deep pass, which was reversed on instant replay. The official ruled that the ball had come out. While the replay indicated that the ball could have come out, it never showed the ball on the ground. (Point being that the replay was inconclusive and the call on the field of a catch should have thus been upheld.)

Incidentally, Michigan capitalized on EVERY opportunity that they were gifted. Each and every one. Balls sailed through Terrapin receivers’ hands, straight into those of Michigan defenders. And those interceptions went back into the red zone. Following the non-catch I mentioned above, Michigan blocked the subsequent punt. To their credit, Michigan didn’t mess around with the chances they were given.

Why is this relevant to the Orioles? Throughout the 2017 season I noticed similar characteristics of the Birds. A seeing eye single with two outs would get through, and suddenly the flood gates would open. It’s almost as if the Orioles felt that they had to punish themselves for their lack of focus.

Part of winning is being in a winning mindset. And part of that is having the fortitude to overcome obstacles. I’m not sure that this 2017 Orioles team was capable of doing that. This isn’t to say that there weren’t mentally fortuitous guys on the team, however as a collective it seemed that things would snowball downward quickly.

And similar to Michigan yesterday, opposing teams always seemed to take advantage quickly. It’s almost as if they played for the fluke play because they knew that it would get the Orioles off-kilter. A ball through the wickets, a bloop single, etc…those things all would wear on the O’s. And again, opposing teams took advantage – nearly every time.

So how do the Orioles fix that going into 2018? I suppose it’s a mental thing more than anything else. And that comes from within. Therefore you hope that players are taking stock of themselves over the winter, and thinking of what changes they can make going into next year – both between the lines and mentally.