Good morning, Camden Chatters.
How would you spend a week in Las Vegas? Playing the slots? Seeing a few shows? Camping out at the blackjack table?
Well, if you’re the Orioles, you’d spend your time collecting infielders. After four days at the winter meetings, the Birds left Vegas with three more infielders than they arrived with. They claimed Rio Ruiz on waivers on Monday, and yesterday they added a pair of Rule 5 picks, Richie Martin and Drew Jackson, to fill their 40-man roster.
Mike Elias is doing his best to address one of the Orioles’ many glaring weaknesses, as the Orioles’ infield depth throughout the organization is noticeably lacking. Before this week, they had only one projected starter in the middle infield — Jonathan Villar, who can play either shortstop or second base — with utility guys such as Breyvic Valera and Steve Wilkerson lurking on the periphery. In the minors, shortstop prospects Adam Hall and Cadyn Grenier are far away from the majors, while top prospect Ryan Mountcastle is currently a third baseman but has struggled defensively and might not stick there.
Ruiz, Martin, and Jackson give the Orioles at least a little bit of protection in the infield, though none of them project as everyday players. The Orioles don’t need stars right now — they’re perfectly content with youngish, cheap players who have a bit of upside and can make a contribution while Elias and his staff continue to rebuild the club from the bottom up.
Better get used to it. That’s going to be the philosophy in Birdland for the next couple of years. So if you’re expecting any big-name player acquisitions, you’re following the wrong team.
Wrapping up the Rule 5 draft - School of Roch
Who says Elias is totally cleaning house in the front office? Tripp Norton is still the Orioles’ director of baseball operations, and here he offers some insight on the club’s new Rule 5 picks.
‘Learning experience’ is basically the only way that can describe the Orioles’ time at the 2018 Winter Meetings – The Athletic
Dan Connolly writes that Mike Elias learned a lot during his first winter meetings as a GM -- including how awkward it is when the media reports that you’ve hired your manager before you’re ready to make that announcement.
Orioles add depth at Meetings, need manager - Orioles.com
Joe Trezza breaks down the Orioles’ three biggest remaining needs. Only three?
Mike Elias: Longtime Oriole Adam Jones ‘no different’ from other free agents the team will monitor - Baltimore Sun
Elias is well aware of Adam Jones’s importance to the Orioles and the city of Baltimore, but he’s not going to let that sway his opinion of whether Jones is a good fit for the club next season.
For new Orioles GM, fixing Chris Davis is a daunting yet essential task - The Washington Post
Dave Sheinin writes that the Orioles fixing Davis is “the only way for them to find a way forward in the next four years.” I can’t say I agree with the premise. But a Davis improvement certainly would be nice, and perhaps the Orioles’ new analytics-heavy approach can help him.
Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have four Oriole birthday buddies, though the only one still living is Rodrigo Lopez (43), who was the de facto ace of some really awful O’s pitching staffs from 2002-06. He was the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2002 when he went 15-9 with a 3.57 ERA.
Other ex-Orioles with birthdays today are 1964 righty Sam Jones (b. 1925, d. 1971); 1956 infielder Bobby Adams (b. 1921, d. 1997); and 1991 righty Jeff Robinson (b. 1961, d. 2014).
On this day in 2011, the Orioles signed lefty Tsuyoshi Wada out of Japan as new GM Dan Duquette hit the Asian market hard (he signed Wei-Yin Chen a month later). Wada never threw a pitch for the Orioles, undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2012, though he later pitched a couple years for the Cubs before returning to Japan.