International Signing Money.
International Signing Money.
“It Seems To Me” is a reoccurring blog discussing current topics taking place in the world of Baltimore Orioles baseball.
It seems to me…
…That the fact that Dan Duquette has flip-flopped between buying and selling at the deadline means that neither he nor Peter Angelos have a real game plan. And that is a frightening thing as a fan. You expect the owner and GM to be confident in which direction they want to take by assessing, realistically, how good the team is this year and whether they want to make moves to improve the chances of current success or build for the future. As of right now, just mere hours from the deadline, nobody is sure what the team is going to do.
…That the acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson was not a sure sign that the Orioles are in buying mode going into the deadline. There have been talks circulating regarding how many more innings the team will allow Dylan Bundy to pitch this season, we have seen the struggles continue for Chris Tillman, and Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley are far from cutting as permanent fixtures in the starting rotation. Getting Hellickson, who led the Phillies in innings pitched last season, may have been strictly as an insurance policy of sorts, giving the Orioles the option of removing one or more of their starters from the rotation for the rest of the season.
…that, despite your thoughts on the motive to acquire Hellickson, the Orioles overpaid. Dan Duquette traded a left handed pitching prospect, Hyun-Soo Kim, and international money to Philadelphia for a mediocre two month rental. If you’re upset over trading Kim, the picture is blurry; The value of pitching prospects has been more than exposed this season, especially left handed ones, and Duqette’s unfathomable refusal to utilize the international market on prospects is beyond reason. For those who are avid Dan Duqette haters, this trade has summarized exactly how he has ridden the coattails of Andy MacPhail and taken a decent farm system and run it into the ground, all while keeping this team ill-prepared for future success.
…if the Orioles are not able to trade Britton by the deadline this year, it isn’t the end of the world. Britton and Brach are both under team control for another season; While this extra year adds value to both players, it is Britton who could still be worth just as much in the off-season or next year if he continues to dominate hitters. On the other hand, Brach has shown signs of being a little overvalued, and so the value added to him by having a full year of team control still on his contract leaves almost no question that the Orioles should try to get the biggest haul they can for him now and not later.
… that Major League Baseball’s addition of a second Wild Card team several years ago is proving to be the wrong decision. Currently, even a team like Detroit, who is sitting nine games under .500, could argue that they will be buyers at the deadline because there is a chance for them to make the playoffs. As a fan of the game, the four team format not only made a more symmetrical playoff picture, but it allowed for teams to honestly assess their position and make moves accordingly. Watching the Orioles truly believe that they still have a chance, when most people know full well that even if they were to make the second wild card and win the play-in game, a series matchup against Boston or Houston would end terribly, is frustrating. It could very well cost the team a chance to compete for years to come if Duqette and Angelos do not jump on the opportunity to obtain top prospects in a down year. However, I guess some could take a survival of the fittest mentality and argue that Baltimore doesn’t deserve it if they can’t see the writing on the wall.
…Pedro Alvarez does not deserve a spot on the 25 man roster until the rosters are expanded on September 1st. There has been a decent outcry on social media to bring Alvarez up and play him at 3rd with Manny at SS while Hardy and Flaherty are on the DL. To this I ask, have you seen Alvarez’s defensive statistics? The man should not be allowed to sit near a glove in the dugout, much less put one on and play a defensive position for a major league ballclub. The Orioles will not solve any problems by calling Alvarez up from Norfolk.
…that to call this trade deadline successful would be to see Britton, Brach, Castillo, and Smith all dealt, but only for the right packages. Based on what baseball has seen middle relievers go for so far in July, Britton and Brach should bring in nothing short of a major package each. With Joseph playing well this year and the O’s season on the brink, Castillo, who has an option on his deal, and Smith, who is on a one year deal, could be contributors to a contending team.
…that I was adamantly for trading Manny Machado at this year’s deadline for several reasons. The Orioles will be stuck in a catch-22 with Machado; Signing him will put them on the hook for upwards over $300 million dollars, handcuffing them when it comes time to sign other pieces of the puzzle or giving players like Jonathon Schoop the new deal he will eventually require. Not signing him will mean that fans will see him walk off into the sunset, clutching his new deal from some other ballclub, while the Orioles are left with nothing but a compensatory pick. Trading him now, while he still has a year left of team control, would be ideal. The package that Machado could draw would be unbelievable. Despite his low numbers this season, he not only has his reputation of being a great ball player, but he has also heated up in July. The front office should be weary not to at least put the bait out there and see what comes back; As the O’s have proven by being on the wrong side over the last few years, the trade deadline causes organizations to greatly overpay for rental pieces.
It Seems To Me (formerly known as “Am I The Only One?”) is a continuing look at some interesting happenings in Baltimore Orioles baseball.
It seems to me…
It’s kind of ironic because before the game broadcast today (5/14), Trey Mancini sat down cross-legged on the warning track behind home plate and was interviewed by a cute little girl with a ponytail. It was an interview that thorough to the point, executed by an up-and-coming professional who asked all the hard and very important questions.
“Who is your best friend on the team?”
I mean, talk about hard-hitting. You want to watch your mouth because the last thing you want to do is send any emotional ripples through the clubhouse, right? Mancini, being the young, naïve sociably-pliable guy that he is, did his job admirably and chose his words carefully, pausing ever so briefly before announcing to the world his answer.
And forever into the history books goes his response. And that isn’t because it was outrageous or off-the-wall. It seems to be known that Kim is one of the most personable players in the locker room, and so it isn’t entirely unexpected that the power-hitting rookie smiles when he proclaims his admiration for his teammate. Instead, it is because Mancini and his hot bat is the obvious reason that Kim has lost playing time since the end of April.
Kim hasn’t done anything to deserve being benched as much as he has in the last few weeks. And so that is the tough part for Orioles fans to wrap their heads around. He has been a fan favorite since he proved himself worthy of getting starts, earning his worth in the eyes of Buck Showalter, about this time last year. Kim, who put himself in Buck’s dog house last season by having a terrible spring training and then demanding that he make the major league roster, despite being told he would begin the campaign in Triple-A Norfolk, has worked hard to shake that reputation. However, now that Mancini has arrived and has played well in the role that Kim previously held, it seems as if Showalter has decided that he has every reason to keep Kim on the bench.
Rumor has it that Hyun-Soo could be shopped around, although the asking price cannot be that appealing. Despite his work last season, Kim is relatively unproven, having little track record against left-handed hitters. He is older than most fans in Baltimore realize, having played professional baseball in Japan since 2007. The fact is, he is no rookie, despite his status last season in the majors. His contract is up at the end of this season, leaving him to become a free agent and putting any acquiring team in a vicarious situation if they inquire about trading for him. And it doesn’t help that the team has five guys on the bench and only six in the bullpen, leaving it up to only a matter of time before changes are made to solidify the relief help.
We are at a crossroads in Baltimore. If Mancini continues to tear apart major league pitching, we could see Kim designated for assignment sooner rather than later. Orioles’ fans will protest, and rightfully so, but in a business sense, keeping him on the roster is becoming more and more of an deterrent, almost on a daily basis. The trade-off won’t be much, as the return for Hyun-Soo will be little to none, depending on whether they can even find a suitor to take him on. However, time will tell, but don’t be surprised if Kim finds himself elsewhere, whether it is Norfolk or another major league ball club, in the near future.
When SSG. Ian Bowling was asked to sing the National Anthem at the Orioles game on May 9th against the Washington Nationals, I highly doubt I was even close to being his first choice as one of the people to accompany him onto the field. He knows a lot of people. He’s traveled far and wide. He’s a baritone in the United States Army Field Band.
Now, according to one NPR article, the baritones, in the Opera-house sense, are usually cast in a production as the bad guy or the father figure, but rarely the character who gets the woman in the end. This seems like a sad state of affairs; one cannot simply judge a man’s character or make assumptions because of his vocal range. It’s outrageous!
Thank God Ian abstains from those types of stereotypical roles and chooses to see the bigger picture. Luckily for me, Ian is dutifully fighting these clichés by dating my Fiancée’s younger sister, a position that all of us in the family could not be happier about. And that level of happiness skyrocketed when Ian told Lauren to choose someone to join her on the field with him while he sung the Star Spangled Banner and her choice was none other than yours truly.
Of course I agreed to such an undertaking and immediately set my brain loose, imagining all the ways I would be able to strike up a conversation with Adam Jones or Wayne Kirby, slip into the batting cages to take a few swings, or run a lap around Camden Yards, slapping hands with all the fans that had shown up early to see Ian’s rendition of our National Anthem. I was fully prepared to talk some confidence into Chris Davis, reprimand Bobby Dickerson that not every player is fast enough to make it home from second base, and sympathetically pat Hyun-Soo Kim on the shoulder while gently letting him know his playing time will increase eventually.
We arrived on the front steps of Camden Yards at 6:00pm, Ian wearing his Orioles’ tie and looking quite dapper, Lauren with her classic Mr. Boh “85” t-shirt, and me in my treasured authentic #23 Chris Hoiles jersey that my brother lovingly gave me for my birthday a few years back. We pushed our way through security, surrounded by official looking team staff members wearing headsets and press passes, all eyes on us as people quickly realized how important we were. Celebrity status!
Upon entering Camden Yards, we stood by the elevator for a few seconds before deciding to be health conscious and take the steps down to the field level underground tunnel that runs beneath the main concourse. When you’re on the fast track to stardom, like the three of us obviously were, sometimes it’s a humbling experience to have to walk down stairs as opposed to having the elevator take you. We reached the tunnel and signed ourselves in while the staff prepared guest passes for us. As I unsuccessfully attempted several times to adhere the sticky pass to my jersey, I came to the conclusion that this is where costs were being cut as a result of giving Chris Davis $164 million dollars. If that’s the case, I think I can live with it.
Rachael, our tour guide/lady in charge of making sure we didn’t run off into the clubhouse, showed us to the interview room where we would wait for a few minutes
until the raucous crowd had filed in and our grand appearance on the field would be legitimized by a deafening roar from the stands. As Ian warmed up in the corner, Lauren and I took turns playing the role of Buck Showalter in his postgame interviews, posing at his desk in front of the MASN/Orioles backdrop. It was surreal to realize that this was the exact desk Buck has rested his hands on while calmly answering whatever questions reporters throw at him. It’s the same microphone he has probably sprayed with sunflower seed flavored saliva. The same seat he has graced with dirt, sweat, and flatulence. It was all very exciting.
With Ian warmed up, Rachael asked if we would prefer to wait on the field. Seeing as it was only 6:35pm, and the Anthem was not scheduled to be sung until 7:01pm (according to Rachael, usually not even until 7:03pm), we debated on whether to spend more time creepily touching all the interview room things or go onto the field to get a good look at Camden Yards from the perspective of real-life baseball players. We chose the latter.
Single file, we walked down the tunnel. We shuffled past the Ernie Tyler Umpire Room and had the door held for us by the Ball Girls, in uniform and ready to go. And then, as if we were entering the pearly gates themselves, Rachael pushed open a big green double door and the blinding open sky filled the hallway. For a few seconds, we could see nothing but bright, heavenly light. But as we stepped out of the door and under the backstop screen, the entire experience became very crystal clear. This was Camden Yards in a way we had never seen before.
It was beautiful.
The stadium seats wrapped around us, the warning track crackled beneath our shoes, and the soothing sound of Ryan Wagner, the Voice of Oriole Park At Camden Yards,
resonated off the atmosphere-reaching upper deck. The grounds crew was finishing up watering the dirt and Nicole McFadyen, the Head Groundskeeper, who has won so many prestigious awards over the last several years, walked right past me; I’m almost positive, under her breath, she whispered “nice man bun”. The camera crews circled like hawks, positioning themselves for the perfect shot for whatever media outlet they represented. Wayne Kirby and Roger McDowell appeared in the dugout, wandering up and down it’s long trenches, and Trey Mancini and J.J. Hardy arrived to sign autographs for the kids who were anxiously waiting to meet the future face and the defensive-minded veteran. Bryce Harper sought out prime real estate in the visitors dugout and then took the field to go harass the battery units warming up in left-center.
As I stood there, taking in the crowd and evesdropping on the conversation taking place behind me about my Chris Hoiles jersey, I noticed Adam Jones and Jonathon Schoop tossing the ball back and forth. Being an avid Orioles game attendee, I’ve noticed this pregame ritual before, but was certain when I arrived on the field that they had already completed it and had moved on to bigger and better things, like the stash of Bazooka Bubblegum piled high in the corner of the dugout. So when they began to take steps back from one another, increasing the distance between the two of them and, in turn, causing Jonesy to get closer and closer to me, I fought off the trepidation that if he missed the ball, it would smash my skull in and probably kill me instantly, and relished the fact that here was the star center fielder for my beloved Baltimore Orioles, mere feet from me, playing catch as if this was a little league field. As he returned fire up the line to Schoop, life got even better as Manny Machado came to join Jonesy, and together they chatted, although I couldn’t hear their conversation above the thumping of my heart in my chest. Manny, who stood taller than I ever expected him to stand, laughed a little before moving on. But the damage had been done. I was hooked. This was the place for me.
A few details remained, including a photo shoot with the Orioles Bird and fixing the discovery that the microphone did not go quite high enough to comfortably reach Ian’s mouth. But there were no worries. After a suggestion of a phone book to be placed under the microphone stand, and a few interesting glances my way, the issue was brushed aside as a miniscule problem and quickly forgotten about. We had bigger fish to fry. It was just a few minutes shy of 7:01pm. The time had almost finally come.
After finding our family in the stands, placed in prime foul ball territory up the 1st base line, we turned our attention to the first pitch. Logan Verrett, who had just been called up that day to take the injured Zach Britton’s spot on the 25-man roster, pulled the duty of playing catcher. After scooping a solid throw that landed squarely in the middle of the right-handed hitters batters box, Verrett retreated to the dugout and we prepared ourselves to honor America. Ian Bowling stoically approached his microphone, sans phone book, and Ryan Wagner reminded us to remove our caps.
You know the words.
The resounding “O!” was as intense as I’ve ever experienced it. It echoed around Camden Yards, bouncing like a loose ball in basketball, off the upper tiers and the warehouse. It resonated long enough to drown out the next few words, “say does that star…”, words that Ian informed me that he had been instructed not to keep contained for a few seconds, despite knowing the reaction this part of the Anthem would get. The show must go on, it was explained, so refrain from giving time to let the “O!” dissipate before continuing. Power through.
But that didn’t stop him from holding the word “free” as he approached the end of the song. It was a drawn out, melodic, goosebump-inspiring note, finalized by a break during which much of the crowd erupted with impressed acclaim, before he dove into final line, six words, an exclamation to an arresting rendition that the fans in attendance quickly recognized. What an experience to be a part of!
Quickly after the National Anthem finished, Rachael ushered us off the field. There was a game to be played! I gave a wave to my new best friend, Adam Jones, and we made our way back down the umpires tunnel, into the interview room, and grabbed our things. The Orioles Bird followed us in with his helpers and we were given one more opportunity to get any pictures we wanted. After a very genuine thank you to everybody involved, we were on our way back up the steps (we don’t forget where we come from) and made our way to our seats.
I’d like to thank SSG. Ian Bowling for allowing me to join him. Thank you to my future Sister-In-Law, Lauren, for choosing me to share my high anxiety levels with hers. It was absolutely amazing. I never thought I’d have an opportunity to do something like this, and to be able to experience Camden Yards from the field itself was a wonderful dream come true. Thank you to the Orioles’ organization and specifically to all the people that were involved helping us make our way through the process and finally onto the field. Thank you to the Bird for being such a generous picture-poser, to Adam and Manny for allowing me to paparazzi your warm-up and conversation, to Rachael for being a kind and caring host, and to everyone that works so hard to put these productions together on a nightly basis.
Baseball is a tough job. It is relentless and unforgiving. The hours can be draining and the workload hard to bare. Much like the game itself, the production is intricate and specific, requiring the closest attention to details and organization. It’s success rides solely on the ability of every single person involved to bring their game face and do their job the right way each and every time. Thank you for allowing me to experience the payoff of just a few minutes of your hard work.
This doesn’t want to be Orioles related. It struggles to be, like seaweed on the ankle of a surfer, or a spider web you didn’t happen to see when you walked through a doorway. In fact, I debated for a long time over whether or not to write about this subject, mainly because I wasn’t sure if there was a relationship between the umpiring in Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles. But, the more you look into it, not so surprisingly, the conspiracy theories seem to dissipate, leaving a very real idea in Baltimore fans’ heads that umpiring is, in fact, not just humanistic, but subject to real life bias.
The issues, if that’s what you want to call them, stem back to the recent series with the Boston Red Sox. Let’s just assume we all saw it. And if you haven’t seen what’s been happening, then let’s give you a link to YouTube. Or www.mlb.com. Either of those should help you out.
Last night, umpire Sam Holbrook, took it into his own hands to kick Kevin Gausman out of the game after Gausman plunked Andrew Bogaerts with a 77mph slider to the backside. Bigger heads, not circumstances, should have prevailed. However, later in the game, it became quite obvious that Holbrook had it out for the Orioles when he ejected Adam Jones for displaying disagreement over whether an obvious outside pitch was actually the strike three that Holbrook claimed it had been.
And here we stand, where the human aspect of umpiring resides. Baseball uses the excuse that it won’t replace the creatural ideals that man the bases because it relieves the sport of the mechanical right and wrong to which so many sports have adapted. And, with that statement, it’s easy to see why so many baseball enthusiasts jump on board, arguing that baseball is the classic sport which places itself as the essence of human error as utmost athletic godliness. However, with those human characteristics that are involved with balls or strikes, safe or out, fair or foul, baseball then takes on the responsibility of human emotion. It isn’t something that is taken into account much by the traditionalists, who believe the fallible elements have existence within balls and strikes but not beyond to the complicated aspects of emotional reasoning involved in controlling the ebbs and flows of the game . But it is something of which to be aware.
Baseball is not hockey. It is not football. It is not even professional basketball. It is a technical sport. It is a sport that lacks a lot of physical contact, but instead makes up for it all by intricacies, the stats, the pieces that make it so hard to explain to your children. And while the abstruse aspect creates an enveloping aurora of love that is hard to match, the obsession with human error has come back to haunt the league when it comes to the growth of emotion in series such as the one between Baltimore/Boston.
There needs to be a medium. Most of us who read these types of blogs understand that our love of baseball has its roots in the idea that this sport is the only one left with a human element. But, unfortunately, as we’ve been witness to, the emotion that gets dragged from divisional series, when teams and players see each other 21 times a season, affects not only the players’ heads but the men who are supposedly in charge of keeping order and calling it down the middle. There is no reason to believe that Sam Holbrook did not mean well when he tossed Gausman and turned his back to Caleb Joseph and Buck Showalter. He was doing what any person would do who found himself in a situation that he did not find to be comfortable. Like anybody on the face of the Earth, Holbrook acted on raw emotion, attempting to suit everybody by acting immediately and determining what needed to be done without question. Unfortunately, he was wrong, as so many umpires are when they are held to the standards of snap-fast reaction. The Orioles found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, and so we find ourselves in a precarious situation.
The escalated altercations between the Orioles and the Red Sox led to the problems both between the players and the umpiring. Major League Baseball, as well as management, had a responsibility to step in and defuse what had grown to be an explosive problem. They failed. And, as fans, we witnessed what would become a lesson in how the ripple effect of controversy has a solid hand on all aspects of the game, umpiring included. The problem now lies in the reactions of those who determine the outcomes of the game. not the men who are actually playing. Because, as we have seen, despite any on-field wrangles between the Sox and O’s, the umps became the most emotionally diluted team to change the outcome of the series.
I like Manny Machado. I like him just as much as the next person. He is a team leader on the field. In fact, he’s probably the most talented guy on the roster. There is constant debate over who the best player is in the majors and Manny Machado’s name is always in the discussion. But it’s time for him to grow up.
It is no coincidence that Machado finds himself at the center of controversy every season.
In 2014, then Oakland A’s thirdbaseman Josh Donaldson applied a tag to him that he considered too hard. It led to confrontation and the benches clearing. The next night, Machado took exception to a pitch he thought was too close for comfort and he let go of his bat on his next swing, sending it spiraling down the third base line toward none other than Josh Donaldson. It led to another bench clearing debacle and his ejection from the game.
In 2016, against the Kansas City Royals, Machado watched as the late (hotheaded) Yordano Ventura pitched him inside on a couple pitches back-to-back. In the replay, you can see Manny stare him down and then bark something at him before taking a third pitch inside. Machado then charged the mound and took a violent swing at Ventura followed by a DDT that Jake The Snake Roberts should be proud of. Both players were ejected and served suspensions.
This season, Machado has found himself in hot water again after being accused of violating the “late slide rule” which has been created to protect secondbasemen and shortstops from being crashed into cleats first by players attempting to slide into the bag. In last night’s game against Boston, Manny slid, relatively late, and cleated the Red Sox Dustin Pedroia in the calf, causing him to have to leave the game. Tempers once again rose, though not to a point of clearing the dugouts, and managers argued with umpires about whether Machado had been in violation of the late slide rule. It was ruled that he was not, however, Boston may have different thoughts tonight when they face the O’s in the second game of the series.
Machado has been called out for his lack of hustle on ground balls. He doesn’t play his hardest all the time. He relies too much on his pure talent and forgets the basics. These are all things that, at one time or another over the last few years, have been pointed out by the few and far between. But they are things that need to be acknowledged and corrected.
The point is, Baltimore fans hold a lot of opposing players near and dear to their heart as the bad guys. Current Blue Jay Jose Bautista or former Red Sox David Ortiz hear boos resonate around Oriole Park whenever they show face on the field or in the batter’s box. Josh Donaldson gets the royal villain treatment, as did Ventura in the games following his altercation with Machado last year. And while we enjoy to hate these guys, knowing that they have done things throughout the years to really piss us off and disrespect our team, it doesn’t excuse the Orioles from having a guy behave in the same, aggressive manner. Manny Machado is young; he is only 24 years old and has had to grow up in the majors. However, that is not an excuse for his knack to have a short fuse and a loud mouth. Realistically, his actions could cause a lot of problems for his team. Long term suspensions leave the team high and dry without their best player. Bench clearing brawls can cause injuries.
It’s time for Machado to face the music. His outbursts on the field may seem to be the kind of shakeup that baseball needs once and a while, but life is much better without it. A team like the Orioles, who have found themselves as annual competitors over the last five years, cannot afford to have their star player acting like a jackass whenever he feels slighted. He is too great of a player to have an attitude problem paperclipped to his resume.