The departure of Orioles’ bullpen coach Dom Chiti to become a senior pitching instructor with the Atlanta Braves isn’t really a surprise.
Chiti was with the Braves before he joined his good friend Dave Wallace and basically became a co-pitching coach with the Orioles for three seasons. Chiti has a close relationship with John Hart, who now is in charge of the Braves.
If Chiti wasn’t sticking in Baltimore, you had to figure Atlanta’s door was wide open for him. And, according to various reports, including MASNsports.com and The Baltimore Sun, Wallace will also be re-joining the Braves as a roving instructor. It all makes perfect sense.
But here’s the part that shouldn’t make sense. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was on record that he wanted Chiti back with the organization. And that Chiti was at least a candidate for the pitching coach job, which Wallace vacated in October because he no longer wanted the daily grind of a big-league job.
Yet Chiti’s contract expired on Oct. 31, and the Orioles never formally reached out to him about a new contract.
So what gives?
Frankly, this is just how the organization works. It’s the way it has worked for years, no matter the GM or manager. More times than not, coaches’ contracts expire before the Orioles rehire them. I’ve heard those complaints going all the way back to the Mike Flanagan administration.
I know it’s a process that has frustrated many a manager and coach, including Showalter, in the past. Getting coaches’ contracts situated never seems to be a priority, though it usually seems to get done. I’m not sure exactly whose fault it is and why the delay happens, but this isn’t new.
The problem is a guy like Chiti, with a sparkling reputation that was only enhanced by the best bullpen ERA in the AL this year, isn’t going to wait around for a contract. He shouldn’t have to.
As Hall of Famer Jim Palmer tweeted on Wednesday night, “Huge loss for O’s letting Dom Chiti’s contract expire. Braves’ gain! #Really? #boo.”
Free agency starts now, sort of
With the last pitch of the World Series and the squeeze of Anthony Rizzo’s glove, 2016-17 free agency has begun. There’s still a five-day period for teams to negotiate exclusively with their own players before it is open season. Very little gets done in that period, though, and almost never with the Orioles.
The Orioles have nine free agents come off the roster – only eight off the 40-man because Steve Pearce was on the 60-day disabled list. They are: catcher Matt Wieters, right fielder Mark Trumbo, designated hitter Pedro Alvarez, outfielders Pearce, Michael Bourn, Nolan Reimold and Drew Stubbs and relievers Tommy Hunter and Brian Duensing.
If it were me, I’d definitely make a legitimate run at Wieters, Trumbo and Bourn. Hunter and Duensing would be on my radar at the right price. You can never have enough quality relievers.
World Series delights
Sure, I get paid to write about baseball, but no one’s ever gonna convince me there is a better championship in pro sports than the World Series.
The Super Bowl is an international spectacle. But it’s just one game on a neutral field – it doesn’t have the same elongated drama.
The Stanley Cup sure is fun, and I usually pay some attention to the NBA Championships, but the World Series is must-watch for me, whether I’m there in person or watching on TV.
And this one in 2016, wow, one of the greatest ever. Two teams that haven’t won the World Series in basically a lifetime (or more) fighting for the title in a one-game, winner-take-all.
Great theater, great passion, great fan bases.
And now no more Curse of the Billy Goat.
By the way, the Orioles have played in two Game 7s, and lost them both to the Pittsburgh Pirates, including in 1979 when they were up 3 games to 1. I’m not sure Baltimore is over that one yet (Sister Sledge still isn’t welcomed here). So, this sting is really going to linger in Cleveland.
But it was a great World Series to watch, no matter where you were watching.