Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Machado's importance; another low-risk deal; Bourn dilemma; Jackson's status; Janish up - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Machado’s importance; another low-risk deal; Bourn dilemma; Jackson’s status; Janish up

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I was talking to an Oriole on Saturday afternoon about the club’s start and how its record was pretty good, yet the team certainly hasn’t hit its stride.

At one point, the player pointed to Manny Machado’s locker and said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Once that guy gets going offensively, watch out. And he will get going.”

It says plenty when veterans look at a 24-year-old kid and, without hesitation, acknowledge his importance to the team.

It also says plenty that Machado, who hit his 10th homer of the season Saturday night, hasn’t really revved up offensively.

Still, he is leading the team in homers. RBIs (24) and is second in walks (20). The problem is his average has been low (.218 heading into Saturday) and he has struck out more times than any Oriole not named Chris Davis.

We’ve watched Machado enough to know that the hit barrage is coming. In his previous five seasons, his final average has been: .262 (as a rookie), .283, .278, .286 and .294 last year.

And if you want more advanced statistical proof that Machado is a sleeping giant this season, consider that his batting average on balls in play heading into Saturday night was .223, 82 points lower than his career BABIP of .305. So, there’s definitely a dose of bad luck going on for Machado in the first six weeks of 2017 that should even out by season’s end.

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Oh, and the guy can play a little third base, too. The spinning snag of a Russell Martin rocket in the fourth that Machado turned into a 5-4-3 double play was another thing of beauty.

The inside scoop on Katz

The Orioles made a trade Saturday, and if it didn’t immediately come to your inbox or you missed it on the television news scroll, it’s OK.

It was one of those trades, not just under the radar, but off of the radar. Yet these are often the ones that have made Dan Duquette’s stint as executive vice president a success.

On Saturday, Duquette sent two international bonus slots 45 and 75 to the Chicago White Sox for 22-year-old lefty Alex Katz, a former 27th rounder who has a career 3.09 ERA in parts of three minor league seasons. Katz will pitch in relief for High-A Frederick.

The Orioles had a bit of an inside look at Katz this spring when he played for Team Israel of the World Baseball Classic. Orioles’ advanced scouting coordinator Ben Werthan was part of Israel’s scouting team and watched Katz play for several weeks. Duquette said that scout Jim Howard also liked what he saw of Katz, a 27th rounder out of St. John’s University in 2015.

“He’s got a good curveball and we got good scouting reports on him from the WBC,” Duquette said. “Good fastball and an excellent strikeout record. Our guys like him and they project him to be a major league reliever.”

The trade makes sense for the Orioles simply because they do not spend much on international amateurs and the slot money would go to waste. It’s an ownership philosophy – that pre-dates Duquette – not to give large bonuses to foreign amateurs because it’s not deemed a worthy investment.

The Orioles would rather spend money on players in the amateur draft or on more proven players (free agents, minor leaguers).

It’s a faulty philosophy in my opinion – there should be a diversification of all potential avenues – but if they aren’t going to use the money, Duquette might as well get some value for the slots.

Bourn, Jackson, Janish, Flaherty updates

Outfielder Michael Bourn can opt-out of his minor-league contract Monday if the Orioles can’t find a spot for him on their 25-man roster. And it doesn’t look like they will – especially with a full outfield and only a four-man bench.

Bourn, 34, hit just .188 in his first nine games at Triple-A Norfolk. But his defensive versatility and speed make him an asset in the minors if the Orioles would need him later on. Duquette basically said the call was Bourn’s, though the club could recall him if they wanted.

“We’ll have to see what he does with his out. We can decide,” Duquette said. “We’ll probably stay at 12 pitchers on the roster.”

Right-hander Edwin Jackson, 33, has allowed two earned runs in six games (one start) and likely will get a call to Baltimore at some point. But Duquette said the organization would like to see him make a few more appearances in the minors.

Shortstop Paul Janish’s contract was purchased from Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday and he was in the starting lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays. He took the spot of utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, who was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain (retroactive to May 19). Flaherty has dealt with occasional shoulder issues much of the year. Janish, 34, is a defensive whiz who was hitting .255 in 34 games with Norfolk.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Osfan73

    May 21, 2017 at 7:40 am

    10 HRs, 24 RBIs and he hasn’t hit his groove yet….look out later on!! O and defensivley Manny is the closest thing to Brooks Robinson I have ever seen….range, reflexes and strong arm!!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 21, 2017 at 10:08 am

      I believe that Manny can do things that even Brooks couldn’t defensively. Manny’s range, speed and arm are superior as today’s players are bigger, faster and in general, much more athletics than players of the past. HOWEVER , Brooks was and is the better defensive player in that he simply didn’t make as many mistakes as Manny. Once Brooks had a bead on the ball, it was money in the bank. “The Human Vacuum Cleaner” … I can’t think of a more appropriate nickname.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 9:02 am

      The only thing I can offer here Boog is that Manny is 24. I have no idea what Brooks looked like at 24, but you have to imagine Manny will play a little smarter as he gets older and will occasionally not force plays. And so the mistakes will be cut down. We were all invincible at 24, right?

  2. HOF19

    May 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I like what I have been reading about Edwin Jackson so maybe he can help the Major League club down the line.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 9:03 am

      They hope he can fill the Worley role though it would slow down the Norfolk shuttle.

  3. Ben1

    May 21, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    dont agree DD ia a success. Buck’s genuis carries DD who has yet to bring a quality pitcher and grossly overpaid for Davis and Trumbo. Just my opinion.

    • Osfan73

      May 21, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      DD hasn’t been too bad. Whiffed on Ubaldo yes….but I thought the acquisitions of Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris were ok. They wern’t the dominant flashy 20 win types but did well for us and provided some stability while here.
      Don’t mind the money paid to keep Trumbo but agree on Davis’s contract-way too many strikeouts for that kind of time/money commitmet.

      • Osfan73

        May 21, 2017 at 4:55 pm

        I forgot about DD getting Wie-Yen Chen. Thought he did well with us as well.

        • slava1351

          May 23, 2017 at 4:16 pm

          Wasn’t it the previous guy who got Miggy and Chen, McFell or something like that?
          DD cut Miggy for nothing prior to last season and Miggy had options and could have gone to the minors until his fastball velocity came back. Miggy is a quality pitcher. Instead DD gave up a draft pick to bring in Yovani Gollardo who was paid more then Miggy and couldn’t hold Miggy’s jock.

          DD didn’t resign Miller, whom Yankees turned into 3 top prospects, while all we hear is how bad our minor league system is.
          DD didn’t resign Cruz, who we could have had on a reasonable contract which he has outpreformed and replaced him with bums. He did luck out with Trumbo a year later. but still.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Honestly, Duq’s shining acquisition was Brad Brach. Got him for a minor leaguer that never progressed.

  4. Raveonjo

    May 21, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Stupid question #1 Is the taxi square a real thing or is it just a creative way of saying Janish is on the Norfolk shuttle?

    Stupid question #2 (For fellow old guys) Was the NFL taxi squad of the 1960’s the equivilent of the current practice squad? I hope I didn’t break some rule by asking an NFL question on baltimorebaseball.com

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 9:08 am

      1. It really is a thing. Was established by MLB a couple years ago (possibly cuz the Orioles were stashing guys in hotels without announcing them and sending them back if not needed). It allows a player to officially be in limbo bw majors and minors and allows a team to quickly activate a player if a borderline injury, for instance, is declared DL’able heading into game time. That was the case w Flaherty. 2. I won’t ban ya for talk of that other great sport. Don’t know 100 percent, but the practice squad does act like a taxi squad.

  5. ubetonit

    May 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    They acquired two very nice pieces over the winter in S.Smith & Castillo. This bullpen will kill this team regardless of how well the other elements perform. If the defense can’t get off the field in football, you’ll suck. Same thing in baseball, but worse b/c there is NO timeclock. You must get 27 outs to win – regardless whether you’re the home or visiting team – 27 outs.

    With Britton out, each member of the pen has been elevated to a role that they’re less competent at . After the 6th inning, success is a coin flip. We’re finding out how the other half (those who have had lousy pens) lived.

    The best example of how crucial a really good bullpen has become was when the O’s swept Detroit in 2014 in the postseason. They beat Verlander, Price & Scherzer, the three previous Cy Young winners. That achievement will probably never happen again. Dave Dombrowski never got it. He neglected the pen but acquired Price & the stupid media fawned all over him for that trade.

    For yrs, sabermetricians have been pooh-poohing the O’s b/c of their excellent record in 1 & 2 run gms. When you have the Darren O’Day of 2012 -15 AND Britton, excellence in 1 & 2 run gms was achievable. With the O’Day of post contract extension AND w/o Britton, we’re finding out how the other half (those who have had lousy pens) lived.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Ube: I think the elevation of a step w the bullpen after the loss of Britton has had an effect. But I think there are other factors too. The primary guys pitched a whole lot due to the starters lack of deep outings. And that has played a major role since they are down Britton and were down another arm (due to a 6-man pen). Plus O’Day hasn’t been fully healthy. I think you will see a better bullpen in the coming weeks, assuming it isn’t pitching 3+ per night.

      • rickytrommer

        May 22, 2017 at 11:00 am

        Agree Dan. Gausman getting tossed and pitching poorly in a number of starts, Miley getting hit by a liner and leaving early, and numerous poor starts by Jiminez have led to the startera averaging less than 5 innings. That’s ridiculous and can’t continue. We’ve put a lot of pressure on the bullpen, and it’s not been able to respond all the time. Britton’s absence has exacerbated the problem. If it contunues, they should cut Jiminez and explore a trade with the White Sox to reaquire Gonzales. Releasing him was a mistake.

      • slava1351

        May 23, 2017 at 4:24 pm

        We just can’t find a consistent long guy to eat up innings in Ubaldo starts like we had in years past in McFarland and Warley last year. They are also running with a 6 man bullpen because they can’t decide on the outfielders they want to carry. Personally, I would like to see Jovi Ricard go to the minors and Kim play more often.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Orioles, under Duq, don’t often recycle like that so I wouldn’t expect more Miggy. But Duq does make deadline moves each year. So if Jimenez is not better by then I could see a trade for a starter.

      • slava1351

        May 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm

        I love Miggy, I find myself googling him every once in a while just to see how he is doing. I feel very bad the way Orioles handled his situation and I’m glad he landed on his feet in Chicago. I would be very happy if they brought him back, he’s everything that went right for this team when they finally turned things around.

        They brought back Steve Pearce last year, although that didn’t really work out due to injury.

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