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Aug
05

It's Going To Be Tough Watching Mancini In An Astros Jersey...

I had been looking forward to Monday night for weeks. It was Aug. 1, which meant one of my favorite bands, a Scottish group called CHVRCHES, was coming to The NorVa on their most recent American tour.

I left my apartment and started towards my friend’s place, as we were carpooling. And it was at that moment that I checked a notification on my phone that immediately dampened my mood.

Trey Mancini had been traded to the Houston Astros.

I spent the remainder of the drive trying to exorcise my feelings of disappointment and frustration, hoping to get rid of them all before arriving at the 7:30 p.m. concert. The performance was spectacular and I had an amazing time, but the following day forced me to fully confront my displeasure with the Mancini trade head-on.

Sure, the Orioles received a couple of pitching prospects, and those prospects have names and abilities that may one day help Baltimore win their first World Series since 1983. But it’s hard to comprehend that at the moment.

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Jun
08

Mancini's Career Year Hasn't Affected His Uncertain Future

If this is really the end for Trey Mancini’s career in Baltimore, he sure is going out with a boom.

The 30-year-old slugger is having one of the best seasons of his career, slashing .303/.374/.448 and sporting a career-high 138 OPS+. Baseball Savant, which measures advanced metrics, tells a similar story, as Mancini sits in the 96th percentile in expected batting average and in the 92nd percentile in expected slugging.

Sadly, Mancini’s resurgence has been marred by the elephant in the room — the Orioles’ refusal to commit to Mancini long term.

The Orioles and Mancini agreed to a one-year deal this offseason with a mutual option of $10 million for next year. Even as Mancini puts together the best performance of his career, the chances of a rebuilding club committing to $10 million for a 31-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is quite low.

It isn’t like the Orioles couldn’t afford him. The club carries an $11 million club option on journeyman starter Jordan Lyles, who’s been relatively reliable this season. Outside of Lyles and John Means’ $2.9 million contract, no other money is currently on the books for the Orioles.

Not only has Mancini been the Orioles’ best hitter this season, but he isn’t blocking anyone in the minors. Mancini has spelled his comrades in the field just 23 times this season, compared to 30 games when Mancini has served as the designated hitter. Nobody in the minors has proven they’re ready for that role yet — the closest option has been Tyler Nevin, a Mark Trumbo-style fielder with an OPS+ of 74.

Despite all of this, Mancini sounds like he’s accepted that his time in Baltimore is limited.

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Jun
03

Nobody Is Laughing At The Baltimore Orioles Anymore

The greater baseball world has spent the better part of the last three years clowning the Baltimore Orioles, mocking the club’s poor performance and low payrolls, while the franchise attempts to reinvent itself and collect younger talent.

To be clear, the on-field product in Baltimore has been awful since 2018. After a disappointing 2017 season, the Orioles flat-lined in 2018 with a 47-115 record. The club hasn’t won more than 54 games since and in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Orioles still only won 41 percent of their games.

Those outside Baltimore expected the same in 2022, but fans knew differently. We knew the curve was beginning to turn, and with the arrival of The Savior (Adley Rutschman) and some all-around growth, suddenly nobody is laughing at the Orioles anymore.

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Aug
20

Fans Who Gave Up Are Missing Mullins' Magical Season

As the Baltimore Orioles continue to lose an unholy number of baseball games, I find it more and more difficult to follow the team.

I gave up on watching the team on a nightly basis a while ago. I simply can’t handle the constant losing. And it’s a shame really, because those who are watching on a regular basis are witnessing one of the greatest seasons in Orioles history by Cedric Mullins.

The numbers don’t tell the entire story, but they sure do provide a lot of useful information. Mullins currently leads the American League in hits and leads the O’s in doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Mullins’ fWAR is 4.7, which is fifth-best in the entirety of Major League Baseball.

Mullins’ ability to produce like this while being stuck in the middle of one of the worst baseball teams in this century make his feat more impressive. Mullins has played in 117 of the Orioles’ 120 games so far and has stayed as steady as possible while the team limps to the finish line in September.

Consider this — after his incredible start to the season in April, Mullins slumped mightily in May. He rebounded with an OPS of 1.172 in June and over the last two months, his OPS has remained over .800. Despite the team floundering around him on a nightly basis, Mullins continues to perform.

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Aug
12

Thank you, Chris Davis, For All Of The Memories...

As an Orioles fan, you would think that Chris Davis’ retirement would bring me eternal joy.

You’d think that Davis’ decision, which the Orioles announced on Thursday, would be reason to celebrate. I mean, Davis’ seven-year, $161 million contract has largely been a disaster, and for an organization in full rebuild mode, getting that money off the books will go a long way.

You’d think that I’d be happy. But in reality, Davis’ retirement makes me quite sad.

I’m sad because from 2012 to 2016, Davis was a linchpin in the Buck Showalter run of success. After floundering in Texas for a few seasons, Davis emerged in Baltimore as one of the best power bats in all of baseball. Over those five seasons, Davis slugged 197 home runs and led the American League in bombs on two separate occasions.

His 53 homers in 2013 and 47 homers in 2015 not only led the junior circuit but enshrined Davis as one of the best power hitters to ever wear an Orioles uniform. His 53 homers in 2013 are also the most in Orioles’ history for a single season.

Davis was reliable and productive. His glove improved too in Baltimore, making him one of the best first baseman in baseball during that time span.

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Jul
30

Best Move For Orioles At Trade Deadline Was No Move At All

I hate the phrase “do something,” as it’s often used shortsightedly, when the people involved are much more concerned with optics than they are actually solving problems.

Sometimes, the best option is to do nothing.

Orioles general manager Mike Elias effectively did nothing at the Trade Deadline, moving a couple of fringe pieces that have little value towards the theoretical competitive core of players that are currently in the organization. All the O’s best players — Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini, John Means and Ryan Mountcastle — are still Orioles.

This year’s Trade Deadline in no way resembled the fire sale of 2018, when the O’s punted on their collection of productive players in favor of a long-term approach. Manny Machado, Zach (also known as Zack) Britton, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman and others were all traded away, mostly bringing back prospects that have yet to break out at the major league level.

It also looks nothing like what the Nationals did this week, which was turn the roster upside down and see what falls out. Like the Orioles in 2018, the Nats moved critical pieces of their organization, though their return looks to be far greater than that of the Orioles’ haul three years ago.

At the time, most of those moves were prudent. Perhaps trying to re-sign Machado might have been a better solution, but there’s no guarantee that the O’s front office hadn’t let that relationship deteriorate enough already. By and large, however, it made sense for the Orioles to unload their top-tier talent because the franchise was so far away from being able to compete at a high level.

Things have changed.

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Jul
14

Forget The Record; Mullins and Mancini Make O's Fans Smile

The Baltimore Orioles are bad. I know this, you know this, heck, even Maggie The WonderBeagle knows this.

But for just two days, the Orioles’ struggles were outdone by their excellence. More specifically, the excellence of Trey Mancini and Cedric Mullins.

At 28-61, the Orioles’ ineptitude has somewhat covered up the individual greatness that we’re seeing from Mancini and Mullins. But that all changed in Denver at the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game.

Let’s start with Mullins, the former 13th-round draft pick who was demoted to Double-A in 2019. All Mullins has done is turn himself into one of the best center fielders in baseball, hitting 16 home runs, totaling a first-half OPS of .921 and playing elite defense in center field.

Mullins wasn’t voted in as a starter, but with Mike Trout still on the mend, Mullins got the nod in center. And nobody deserved it more.

Seeing an Orioles’ All-Star there because he earned it, not because Major League Baseball requires that all 30 teams be represented, was a beautiful sight for sore eyes. Mullins would reach on a hit later ruled as an error, and score a run in the American League’s 5-2 victory.

As great as it was seeing Mullins be recognized for his stellar first half, Mancini stole the weekend.

Mancini kicked off the Home Run Derby in dramatic fashion, knocking off well-known slugger Matt Olson in the opening round before beating hometown favorite Trevor Story in the semifinals. Mancini ultimately fell to Derby animal Pete Alonso, but not before Mancini slugged another 22 home runs.

In all, Mancini deposited 59 baseballs over the Coors Field fences. He outpaced everyone’s expectations, maybe even his own.

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Jul
12

Mike Elias Sticking To His Guns In Drafting Colton Cowser

You’ve got to give Mike Elias credit for sticking to his guns.

The Orioles’ general manager has developed a strong modus operandi through his first three drafts as Head Oriole — use your first-round draft pick on an uber-productive college player, particularly productive hitters.

Elias followed his rubric again Sunday night, drafting Sam Houston State outfielder Colton Cowser.

Don’t tell Elias that he reached for Cowser, because you’d be wasting your time. Cowser more than earned his slot with the Orioles as a college center fielder, sporting an OPS higher than 1.000 in both of his two full seasons as a collegiate player.

Cowser’s always been good with the bat, batting .361 in 2019 and .374 in 2021. He slugged over .600 both of those seasons and in 2021, Cowser hit 16 home runs. He hit just seven in 2019.

The scouts agree with the numbers.

“One of the best bats in the college class, Cowser has a pure left-handed stroke and repeatedly finds the barrel,” according to his MLB Pipeline profile. “His quick hands allow him to pepper line drives all over the field as he executes a very controlled approach.”

The Southland Conference Player of the Year should be able to stick in center field too, increasing his value.

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Jun
30

Orioles Better Not Be Thinking About Trading Trey Mancini

Don’t you do it, Mike Elias. Don’t. You. Do. It.

If Elias wants to completely alienate the fanbase — slow progress from the farm system is doing that already — then he should go ahead and trade Trey Mancini.

But if he does it, good luck keeping this O’s fan interested.

Mancini’s story has been well-covered at this point — the man lost an entire year of his life after being diagnosed with colon cancer, was forced to endure it during the COVID-19 pandemic and through it all, he’s back in Baltimore hitting homers and driving in runs.

Mancini is reliable as the day is long. Pencil him in the lineup and reap the benefits.

Obviously, Mancini’s prowess as a hitter — his OPS of .789 is above the league average and he’s hit 14 homers this season — isn’t translating to wins. Mancini and Cedric Mullins are the only two reliable O’s in the lineup and as good as they’ve been — both Mancini and Mullins might represent Baltimore in the Midsummer Classic — they can’t win games by themselves.

As the Orioles continue to call the AL East cellar home, the organization is clearly still in “tank mode.” But how far is the organization willing to go?

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Jun
27

Dean Kremer Facing A Crossroad In His Career With Orioles

Two years from now, Dean Kremer will know a lot about real estate.

One way or the other.

The Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect found himself back on a flight to Norfolk for the second time this season Friday, fresh off the worst start of his major league career. Thursday night, Kremer retired just one batter, walking five and allowing two hits en route to six earned runs. Kremer’s bags were probably packed before he went to bed that night.

Putting it mildly, Kremer has been bad this season. After four starts in 2020, Kremer holds a 7.25 ERA through 49.2 innings in 2021. Conventional wisdom was that Kremer was turning a corner after consecutive solid outings when he returned to Baltimore on June 14. Instead, it looks like Kremer is in dire need of some pitching help.

He’ll get the help he needs at Triple-A Norfolk, but whether he heeds it or not is up to him. If he doesn’t, he’ll be out of the league selling real estate before he turns 30. If he does, he’ll remember that like real estate, pitching is about location, location, location.

Why is it all about location for Kremer? His stuff is actually quite good. Kremer’s velocity is a bit below league average in 2021, but his movement is well above average. His fastball, changeup and cutter/slider are above league average in both vertical and horizontal movement, while his curveball is well above the league average in vertical movement.

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Jun
21

Orioles Fans Need To Be Patient For Only A Little Longer

Patience is a virtue...for a reason.

Not many people have it, and for those that do, they often can’t hold onto it for very long. Most, in fact, can only put up with something for so long before they’re ready for things to get better. 

For Baltimore Orioles fans, however, it's looking like you need to be patient for only a little while longer. The Orioles' cavalry is en route.

Baltimore fans have plenty of reasons to eschew their patience — the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016 and since 2018, when the club won an abysmal 47 games, the O’s have been one of the worst clubs in baseball. The poor hitting, revolving door in the starting rotation and consistent losing has grown tiresome.

The constant losing has led some to question the rebuild stewarded by Mike Elias. Grumblings about the future of Brandon Hyde’s managerial tenure in Baltimore are growing louder. But rather than talk about whether or not Hyde should keep his job — frankly, it doesn’t matter all that much as everyone knows Hyde won’t be the manager during this club’s potential competitive window — let me direct your attention to the Orioles’ minor league system, specifically Double-A Bowie.

Bowie is a gold mine of Orioles’ talent at the moment. Six of the O’s top 30 prospects are assigned to Bowie. The most notable among them being Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez.

It’s hard to not imagine them leading a stretch of winning baseball. Rutschman is justifying the hype this season, slashing .293/.430/.531 with 10 homers in just 40 games. Despite missing almost an entire season of minor league ball, Rutschman looks to be on track in his development.

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