Myriad O's thoughts: Early stats mean little; Castro/Adams intriguing matchup; 'Kids cheer free' brilliance; weekly radio musings - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s thoughts: Early stats mean little; Castro/Adams intriguing matchup; ‘Kids cheer free’ brilliance; weekly radio musings

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon
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So, as an Orioles’ fan, you were excited when Andrew Cashner made his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday and threw four scoreless innings. And you were relieved Monday when Dylan Bundy, after two poor exhibition starts, allowed just one run in five innings.

And then you were angry about the state of the Orioles’ rotation Tuesday, when Chris Tillman made his Grapefruit League debut and walked six of the 14 guys he faced and was charged with four runs allowed in two-plus innings.

That performance cemented what you have been thinking all winter: That the Orioles’ rotation is gonna be bad and that Tillman was a waste of $3 million.

OK, now step down from the ledge.

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Tillman’s start Tuesday meant nothing. And, frankly, neither did Bundy’s on Monday or Cashner’s on Sunday.

There’s a reason Grapefruit League games are exhibitions: Because no one is ready. No hitter is playing nine innings No pitcher is trying to go deep into the games. The competitive juices are trickling, but not flowing.

Think of these as similar to the first few preseason football games. Once the real games start, no one ever considers what happened in those exhibitions – assuming everyone avoids injury.

It’s funny. It seems like my “it’s early” mantra is being used earlier and earlier now.

I get the concern with Tillman given his performance last season and the fact that he didn’t throw strikes Tuesday. But to immediately huff about it being a bad signing is, well, embarrassingly premature. Give. It. Time. And then complain later if he continues to struggle when games count.

If we are having this conversation in late May, well, there will be a problem. But not in March.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is one of many long-time baseball men who subscribe to the theory that too much is made of March and September performances. The beauty of baseball is that it is a long season, and it has to play out between those months.

Predicting what will happen in August based on what we’re seeing in March is fool’s gold. Remember that the next time your blood pressure rises in the spring.

Today’s exhibition has intriguing pitching matchup

This afternoon’s game between the Orioles and the New York Yankees – which will be aired on MASN – gives Miguel Castro another chance to start this spring.

Castro is fighting for the fifth starter’s spot, and it’s going to be interesting to see what the Orioles ultimately do with the 23-year-old right-hander.

He is competing with Mike Wright Jr., and Nestor Cortes Jr., and he had more success in the big leagues than the other two. But he’s also the only one of the trio that can be sent to the minors without incident (Wright would have to pass through waivers; Cortes, a Rule 5 pick, would have to pass waivers and be offered back to the Yankees).

Showalter has said he expects to take the best 25 players with him to Baltimore. And, if that’s the case, Castro should be one of those based on what he did in 2017 for the Orioles (a 3.53 ERA in 39 games).

But it’s clear the Orioles need rotation help in 2018, and Castro has started once as a big leaguer – last September 30, when he lasted only 3 1/3 innings.

It’s a logical personnel move to send him to Triple-A Norfolk to gain starting experience. But it goes against the “best 25” philosophy.

It’s certainly a situation worth watching.

Also worth monitoring Wednesday is the starter that the Yankees will use against a representative Orioles’ lineup: Right-hander Chance Adams.

Adams is only 23 and is ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ fourth best prospect and second-best pitching prospect, as well as the 21st ranked right-handed minor leaguer in the game.

I tell you this because Adams and left-handed prospect Justus Sheffield are the young pitchers the Orioles apparently coveted if they were to, gulp, consider dealing Manny Machado to the Yankees this winter.

No idea if the Yankees would have bitten and surrendered Adams and/or Sheffield. So, you can call it nothing but speculation. Still, it’s worth noting the Orioles will get a close-up look at Adams today.

Free tickets for kids is brilliant – simple as that

If you want to be a cynic, you can say the Orioles’ new, “Kids Cheer Free” promotion is a pre-emptive tactic to fill some seats at Camden Yards given that this team doesn’t look particularly good for 2018.

Maybe that’s the case.

Shouldn’t matter.

Baseball is slipping past younger generations. I see it as a youth coach. I see it as a sports reporter. I see it as someone who enjoys baseball and is staring at the wrong side of my 40s.

I grew up going to Memorial Stadium as a kid; it was our family’s top entertainment choice, partially because it was cheap and, yes, partially because those late 1970s/early 1980s Orioles’ teams were great.

But that’s where my love for the game grew – at the stadium.

Anything the Orioles and Major League Baseball can do to foster that yearning for baseball in today’s youth and get them to the parks should be applauded.

Giving away two upper deck tickets for kids ages 9 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket is nothing short of genius.

Give credit where it is due. The Orioles deserve back-pats for this one.

Camden Yards is already fan friendly. The policy of allowing fans to bring in their own food is huge for families with modest incomes. This new ticket promotion makes it even more affordable for those families.

Radio musings

If you aren’t in York, Pa., and didn’t have a chance to listen to my weekly radio show on WOYK on Tuesday night, no worries.

The show, which featured my rantings on the Orioles’ pitching staff as well as excerpts of interviews with Dan Duquette and Brad Brach, can be found on the station’s website and on iTunes as part of BaltimoreBaseball.com’s podcasts.

You can also click below and listen here:

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 14, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Who’s worried? The only thing I’m worried about is if the O’s will offer a big enough Hawaiian shirt on June 30th for an old fat guy like me?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 12:59 pm

      Ray of sunshine Boog

  2. willpatten

    March 14, 2018 at 11:47 am

    We know all about the meaninglessness of spring games Dan.
    But we’re scarred by watching Ubaldo and Tillman get slaughtered turn after turn last year and having Buck continue to run them out there (Einstein’s definition of insanity) telling us about their “track record.”
    Grant us our skepticism. We earned it.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      I get it. And let it flow if this continues to happen. But my experience tells me this doesn’t tell us one thing or another about Tillman.

  3. monkeyhouse

    March 14, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Nice Job Dan. and no slides!!!!!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Hahaha. Not this time.

  4. OsFanStuckInNY

    March 14, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    I understand the truth in what you say about ST performance. That said, Tillman’s lack of ability to show anything promising is not encouraging.

    More important: how many starts do you think he gets in the regular season *if* he continues to pitch like last year?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      That’s the better focus. Showalter is very loyal to his veterans. If Tillman gets continually shelled and there are better options, he has to use them.

  5. Steve Cockey

    March 14, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Normally I’d completely agree that spring training stats are almost always meaningless. In this particular case, however, I’m somewhat concerned.

    Last year, Tillman didn’t in any way resemble a major-league pitcher or his former self. His velocity was down, he couldn’t find his release point, and disastrous results followed.

    Yesterday, Tillman didn’t in any way resemble a major-league pitcher or his former self. His velocity was down (reportedly 87-90 mph), he couldn’t find his release point, and disastrous results ensued.

    Buck’s been talking about how much further along Tillman is this spring compared to last. It’s somewhat difficult to buy that after yesterday, and it’ll be even more difficult to believe if his next outing is another clunker.

    Consider this: the most walks any pitcher on any team has issued this spring is 8. Tillman walked 6 in 2 innings. That’s pretty difficult to do; every pitcher with at least 6 walks has thrown at least 3 2/3 innings.

    It’s still hard for me to believe that Tillman is healthy. Shoulder injuries are an entirely different beast than elbow ones, and Tillman’s never had any kind of surgery. He threw for other teams, and it seems that no one else was willing to offer more than a minor-league deal.

    I love the guy and am hoping like heck that he rebounds. He certainly still could. But I’m not at all optimistic, and his first outing doesn’t make me feel any differently. With Tillman penciled in as the 4th starter and no-track-record guys in the 5th slot and front of the bullpen, I’d be looking at Scott Feldman/John Lackey/Trevor Cahill for additional depth.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      Steve: YOU need to step away from the ledge the most. My family and career beg you. :). Seriously, I get it. But this portends nothing. I’ll ask it the other way: if he came out and pitched 2 innings of solid, scoreless ball would you be relieved? No, you — and most — would be like, it’s only spring training. We saw what he did last year. He has to prove otherwise this regular season. I get that. He gets that. Maybe he won’t. But a first outing in spring is indicative of nothing.

  6. Orial

    March 14, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    I know you said these games meant nothing but Lynn sure looked sharp in his “first” outing. Question of the day Dan–if O’s offer 2years with 3rd option at 12mill per to Cobb does he take it and ignore all the Baltimore/OPACY theories?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      I dunno. Obviously I’m not him. But I think a third year probably would have been key. If it’s only an option then you’re talking the same deal just double. So why not take a one-year deal and gamble on yourself? My thought anyway.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    March 14, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Looks like the Orioles marketing department has wised up and is looking at the long view. More than any other sport, baseball grows ’em young. I’m willing to bet every single commenter on here got into the game between the ages of five and seven and loved it ever since. I know plenty of people who started watching football in their early adult years. I don’t know anyone who became baseball fans at that age. And the in-game experience is the finisher. A kid sees baseball on TV and he’s interested in the game. A kid plays baseball and he likes the game. You get him into the stadium and see the real thing live and in color, you got him for life.

    I’m rooting for Castro. Guy looks like he could be an absolute steal. I stress COULD because he got run out of Toronto for a reason.

    I’m not on the Tillman panic train, but if he still looks bad after 4-5 starts in the regular season, he’s gotta go. He can have all the rope he wants in Florida, if he doesn’t look competent in Baltimore you can give no quarter.

    Sign Cobb already. It seems like every media outlet in America is basically screaming at the Orioles to sign the guy. I’m tired of the money talk too. No way he’s “out of our price range” now that he’s looking at being unemployed on opening day. Sign him. Today.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Good thoughts on growing the game. As for Cobb, I’m very curious to see what he gets. Wherever.

  8. Birdman

    March 14, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    No legitimate money excuse not to have signed a desperately needed starter, Cobb or Lynn, even if that required a third year. O’s dumped about $40 million in salaries after 2017 with departure of J.J., Ubaldo, Miley, and Tillman’s pay cut, and they will dump more after 2018 with departure of Manny and (probably) Britton. Sending a message to fans that they are too cheap to compete.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 10:57 pm

      I agree they should have landed another starter. But I get tired of the too cheap thing. They’ve had a top 10 payroll for two years. They are mid-pack right now. It’s not the amount of money spent. It’s how it is spent.

  9. Glstem

    March 14, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Orioles had their chances,there were so many pitchers avail but they choose to be cheap and the fans are not stupid.

  10. Glstem

    March 14, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    we should have taken the best deal for Manny knowing he’ll be a Yankee next year for example, we could have gotten Yankee 3rd baseman Agular with 4 years control, and Jordan Montgomery, 4 years control, Chad Green, 4years control and a prospect instead, well get nothing when Manny leaves same thing with Scoop next year.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      Not sure how you know whom the Orioles would have gotten. I’d love to get to know your source better. Would help me in my job.

  11. novaslim

    March 14, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Yes these games don’t count. They are used to get a grasp of where players are at this point in time. This doesn’t bode well for Tilly. He’s been a proven rotation leader for years & that’s not forgotten. I just don’t think he should be handed a spot. He should have to earn it too.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 10:59 pm

      There’s a solid argument there. But he’s got the spot.

  12. MAGICEJS

    March 14, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    If we don’t sign Cobb and let the Redsox or Yanks sign him , we really are going through the motions to try to be a contender.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 14, 2018 at 10:59 pm

      I still can’t imagine they sign Cobb

  13. GSISDANNO

    March 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Giving credit where credit is due, the Orioles Kids Cheer Free promotion is brilliant. Baseball needs to recruit the younger generation. Plus, Dad and Mom will be more likely to take the kids to a game if it costs $40 for 4 tickets instead of $80. Plus, kids but concessions. Smart move Os. Now go get a pitcher.

    • cedar

      March 15, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      Absolutely agree. For all the talk about the O’s/Angelos being cheap and not willing to spend money – take a look at what they have done for families to make it more affordable. This cost them revenue and this should also be considered part of the equation.

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