Category: Uncategorized

Baltimore Orioles: More Chance Sisco in 2018?

The Baltimore Orioles brought Chance Sisco to the big leagues as a September call-up this year. And the results were very favorable for the young catcher. Sisco hit .333 in 18 at-bats with two homers, four RBI, and an OBP of .455.

The Orioles of course let Matt Wieters walk after last season, and he ended up in Washington. They then signed Welington Castillo, who was this year’s starting catcher. To be clear, Castillo had a solid season and for the most part was good for the Orioles behind the plate. And that’s part of the reason why he’s expected to turn down his $7 million option and become a free agent.

So this opens the door for Sisco in a sense. He didn’t come up with the fanfare that Wieters did, however he’s been a prospect about whom the Orioles have been excited for some time. In ten games behind the plate at the big league level, he turned in a perfect fielding percentage.

The question is whether or not this is the time to fully commit to Sisco as a full-fledge Oriole as opposed to just a prospect. I’d be curious to know how much (if at all) that decision lies with Castillo. Would the Orioles go with the hand of experience if they could get Castillo back cheaply? I suspect they would. You’d prefer not to have to go through on-the-job-training, even with a hot prospect.

But having Sisco waiting in the wings also them options. If Castillo ends up elsewhere, Sisco could easily find himself splitting catching duties with Caleb Joseph. Only time will tell.


Baltimore Orioles: What’s the responsibility to the customer?

The Baltimore Orioles, MLB, and the rest of the sports world are avidly watching the NFL and what’s going on with the anthem protests. This isn’t so much about whether one should stand for the anthem anymore, however. It’s now entered an entirely new realm.

The NFL said this week that their “stance” is that they encourage and want all players to stand for the National Anthem, however it’s not required. Basically, you won’t be disciplined if you don’t. On one hand you have some players arguing that it’s a civil rights issue and so forth. And on the other hand you have fans (paying customers) who are disgusted by the entire thing.

The fact is that NFL ratings are down once again this year – supposedly by approximately 7.5%. When networks and sponsors are paying as much as they are for coverage and exposure, that’s a lot. We can’t be sure that the anthem protests are the reason for all of that, but it’s safe to say that some of it is due to that. However I’m not sure that the number of eyeballs watching is necessarily that different. Sports bars now shoe every game, and people can stream games online. That might attest for some of it as well.

However, where’s the line of justice in all of this? Again, MLB should be watching this intently. One player opted to take a knee before the season ended in September, but this is an issue that might become more prevalent next year for all they know. And in effect, both sides kind of remain at an impasse.

Many people try to liken this to slavery, in that they feel that owners (most of whom are older white gentlemen) are trying to claim that because they pay these players lots of money they can tell them how to behave and so forth. The slavery comparison is out of line – let me just say that up front. However, the fact is that any employer can basically dictate what their employees’ behavior is expected to be while they’re on the clock. And these players are very much employees on the clock during the National Anthem.

This of course comes with the caveat of within reason. Your employer can’t ask you to break the law or anything along those lines. However if the NFL or an individual owner sees that their customers are bothered by players (employees) taking a knee during the anthem, the fact is that they do have a right to in that instance tell players they’re expected to stand. As would MLB.

And the fact is that employers do things like this all the time. Things which could in theory border on infringing on people’s personal liberty. There are companies out there who forbid their employees to smoke. Not you can’t smoke during work hours, or you can’t smoke on company property. But literally you aren’t allowed to be employed there and be a smoker – even on your own personal time.

I see that as worse than dictating what behavior is expected on the job. That’s literally dictating someone’s life outside of work. And yes, people have been fired for these types of transgressions. But I digress. Should the NFL and perhaps other leagues infringe on the personal liberties of it’s employees? Should they appease their customers at all costs? Again, the sides remain at an impasse.

Baltimore Orioles: Devoid of the “clutch gene” in 2017?

Manny Machado had his share of clutch moments for the 2017 Baltimore Orioles. And there were plenty of others as well. Look back to Opening Day and you’ll see Mark Trumbo hitting a walk off homer to beat Toronto. That’s a big spot and it’s obviously as clutch as it gets.

But also look to last night’s ALCS game where New York came from four runs down late to defeat Houston. You have Judge of course hitting a home run, and New York proceeding to bat around in the following inning. Can we say that something like this never happened to the 2017 O’s? Of course not. But it sure seeed that the times it happened were few and far between.

So how did this clutch gene seemingly land in New York? Perhaps the better question is how does it seemingly always seem to land in New York – over the generations? That’s really tough to say. This is a New York team that knows they’re playing on borrowed time in a sense. They weren’t supposed to be this good this quickly.

And in a sense, they’re soaking in the experience of playing at the level at which they are. And perhaps that’s relaxing them to the point of playing the way that they are. Instead, the Orioles felt the pressure almost from day one. And at a certain point it took it’s toll.

However keep in mind that Judge is a hitter that’s probably similar to the likes of Davis and Trumbo. He’s predictable in the sense that he swings at anything and everything. Right now his bat is catching everything, making people think he’s the begin all end all of hitting. But keep in mind that he had a secon half swoon as well where his bat wasn’t catching anything.

And that’s perhaps part of the story of the 2017 O’s. They were constantly predictable in the sense that teams knew they were going up to the plate hacking. So at some point they’d employ a small wrinkle in their game plan, perhaps as small as late movement one way or the other on a pitch. And being predictable, the Orioles couldn’t adjust.

And that’s part of why they couldn’t seem to get that clutch gene going. Will that change in 2018? It’s going to have to.

Baltimore Orioles: Is the NFL’s loss MLB’s gain?

The Baltimore Orioles and the sports world have been rocked with the national anthem protests across the NFL of late. I have my views on that, and you can find those out if you follow my social media accounts. I’m not going to go into that here.

However regardless of the reasoning as to why, many Americans are turning away from the NFL – for now. That may be the wrong way of putting it; some people claim they’re turning away from the NFL. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t do it. I love football too much!

But that aside, does MLB possibly have an opportunity? Baseball has long whistled a patriotic tune in the sense that three major American holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day) fall during the season, and the league does a great job of marking them. The past few years the patriotic line of memorabilia has been very strong.

However I would submit that the chance to gain fans isn’t as great as one might think. Baseball’s greatest lack in terms of demographics are younger fans – the millennials. However it’s mainly the older generations (Gen X and Baby Boomers) who are the ones who have an issue with the protests…

…or with the methodology, at least. Most people probably aren’t upset about the protests overall, they’re upset that they’re disrespecting the flag. But that’s another story. Even still, perhaps it’s time for MLB to remind folks that baseball in fact is and always will be “America’s Pastime.”

Baltimore Orioles: Zach Britton on the Boston trip

Zach Britton blew his first save in 60 attempts for the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. However all’s well that end’s well – the Orioles overcame that and won. I suspect that had the Birds fell to Oakland that day it would have been a much bigger story.

After the game we found out that Britton was going to undergo an MRI for some knee soreness. Britton later admitted that it had been there for a couple of years. However the results of that MRI boded well for Britton, although it’s unclear how long he might be sidelined – if at all.

Britton is on the current three-game road trip, in essence a series in Boston. Britton told the media that he’s had this soreness for the past two or three years, likening it back to the turf in Toronto in 2014 (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

Gosh, I probably had it since like 2014,” Britton said. “I got my cleats stuck one time in Toronto on their turf and it’s something that was kind of bothering me. I think I pitched through it the last three or four years. So, (Dr. Michael Jacobs) kind of wants me to get it checked out.

The aforementioned series with Boston begins tonight at Fenway Park. Jeremy Hellickson gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Rick Porcello. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Only as good as your next day’s starter

The Baltimore Orioles and every other MLB team is only as good as their next day’s starter. In last night’s case, that was Wade Miley. And last night Miley wasn’t very good – in one inning. And that’s all it took. Miley’s line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 K.

Out of six innings pitched, Miley struggled in the second. But he struggle just enough to where Tampa pounced. And that’s all it took. Tampa used three singles in the second inning to load the bases with one out. They then got on the board with an RBI-single by Smith, and a sac fly-RBI by Sucre.

The death blow however was a three-run homer by Beckham, which busted the game wide open at 5-0. However Miley settled down after that. But the damage was done. Although, the Orioles were able to make a game of it.

They got on the board in the fifth on a sac fly-RBI by Machado. One inning later Trey Mancini smacked a solo homer, and suddenly the Birds were within three at 5-2. In the eighth Welington Castillo‘s two-RBI single brought the Orioles to within one at 5-4.

The O’s had the tying run at third in the ninth inning, but were unable to capitalize. And while it begins and ends with starting pitching, the Orioles also left nine on base – many of which were in scoring position. You have to capitalize when you get guys on base.

And that’s really how Tampa won this game. They got a boat load of guys on base in that second inning, and they were able to bring them home. Now in fairness the Orioles did capitalize on soe guys on base later in the game. They just didn’t do it enough times to win.

Save for that one inning, the Birds seemed to hold Tampa in Check fairly well. But that also shows you that all it really takes is a couple of misplaced pitches or even bad bounces to lose games. With the exception of that second inning, Miley probably pitched well enough for the Orioles to win the game.

But that’s a tough sell because you can’t just remove the second inning from the conversation. That’s not really how it works. All you can really do is move forward into this afternoon’s series finale and try to take two-of-three.

The aforementioned series finale is early this afternoon at Tropicana Field. Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Alex Cobb. Game time is set for just after 12 PM.

Baltimore Orioles almost able to come back

Ubaldo Jimenez was unable to keep the Baltimore Orioles in last night’s game early on. However I will say that he probably pitched better than his stat line indicates. He threw strike one to 12 of the first 15 hitters. But the fact is that he wasn’t as crisp as he needed to be. Jimenez’s line: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

Jimenez surrendered a run almost right off the bat on Beltran’s RBI-single. However just a moment later Gurriel’s two-run homer made the score 3-0. And part of why I say that Jimenez wasn’t as bad as advertised was that one of the base hits that led to that homer was a softly hit single. When you’re barely putting the bat on the ball and still succeeding, that’s called getting lucky.

Houston would add an RBI-triple in the second, and Altuve would ground out into another run. And thus while the crowd still was filing in, the O’s trailed 2-0. But they did get a run back an inning later on a Schoop RBI-single, although Houston immediately got that run back on a McCann solo homer. Before all was said and done, Houston led 8-1.

But the Orioles made an incredibly valiant, albeit very late comeback attempt. Trumbo’s RBI-single in the eighth cut the lead to 8-2. Jones would follow with a two-RBI double, and Schoop a three-run homer. Before we knew it, the Birds only trailed 8-7.

But that’s as close as they got. And once again, it highlights the need for starting pitching. Granted Jimenez didn’t give up eight runs. However he set the tone. And that’s what starting pitching is all about.

And keep in mind that this game ended up a one-run game. In one of the RBI plays Houston turned in above, Rickard dove for a ball in the outfield. The ball got by him (under his glove), and went all the way to the wall. It was a valiant effort by Rickard, however an extra run scored.

All things being equal, the game would have been tied. And it’s little things like that which are valued immensely by a team like Houston. The Orioles don’t look at one run as being any sort of a big deal, because of their power – which we saw at the end of the game last night. But Houston treats every single run as a precious commodity.

The series continues tonight at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Collin McHugh. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.