There are now ten days to go until the next Orioles game that counts. It’ll be here before we know it, for better or worse. Between now and then, there’s still nine spring training games left to be played, including today at 1:05 when they travel to play the Tigers. The game will be streamed online through Orioles.com or the MLB At Bat app.
The Orioles are now 11-11-2 in their Grapefruit League games after losing yesterday to the Yankees, 4-3. Mike Wright was bad and on the whole, so were the regular batters, nearly all of whom might be in the Opening Day lineup.
A round of cuts before yesterday’s game made the Orioles Opening Day roster picture look a bit more clear. Six players were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk: outfielders Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, infielder Stevie Wilkerson, and pitchers Cody Carroll, Branden Kline, and Yefry Ramirez. Two more who were invited to big league camp on minor league contracts were reassigned: Infielder Christopher Bostick and pitcher Gabriel Ynoa.
Hays is the most surprising of the bunch, although maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. The Orioles may have a young outfield of the future on the way, but it’s not the outfield of the present quite yet. MASN’s Roch Kubatko relayed GM Mike Elias’s explanation about why Hays is starting the season out in the minors:
In terms of the decision surrounding Austin, look at his body of work. He has not spent much time at the Double-A level. He spent zero time at the Triple-A level. And he had a bad year last year due to injury. We felt it was important to get him a baseline of production, get his feet under him literally and then see what we have and go from there. We’ll make the right determination around his career development rather than reacting to the fact that he’s had statistically probably the best camp here.
Hays played a half-season at Double-A Bowie before his promotion to MLB in 2017, and another half-season there around his various injuries last year. That he got called up to Baltimore at the end of that 2017 season was a misguided act of desperation by that year’s Orioles, not necessarily the best thing that should have been done for his development as a player.
“Give Hays a couple of months to settle in at Triple-A before rushing him back to MLB” is a reasonable enough explanation, even if it’s not an exciting one to fans who were hoping to see an interesting team out of the gate this year. They may even be looking to give Hays some reps in center field to figure out if he can be an answer there.
The Orioles are going to be bad. The best we can hope for is that June is more interesting than April and August is more interesting than June as struggling veterans and overmatched young-ish players are shuffled off the roster, capable veterans are traded, and young players either force their way to MLB or are given chances to replace the departed.
If yesterday’s lineup is any indication, the season will begin with Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo both healthy enough to play, meaning Trey Mancini will be in left field. That’s... just not exciting. At all.
Mike Mussina was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame 55 days ago. The Orioles have not yet announced any plans to retire his jersey number or add his statue to Camden Yards.
Around the blogO’sphere
For Orioles, keeping top prospects like Austin Hays in minors is clearest sign yet that development trumps winning (Baltimore Sun)
Mike Elias told us at FanFest that he didn’t want to place undue emphasis on something that’s not strategically relevant. With yesterday’s cuts, we found out some of what that means.
Wright: “Got to keep the ball in the park” (School of Roch)
He did not keep the ball in the park.
Orioles using analytics, sign of culture change (Orioles.com)
There have been four new full-time analytics staffers added to the front office since the Elias regime took over.
Chris Davis discusses MLB’s new rules (Baltimore Baseball)
Davis is the Orioles player representative, so he’s got a bigger perspective on some of the new changes.
Spring reserves keeping standards high in difficult late-game assignments (Baltimore Sun)
For anyone out there who really needs to know what Jace Peterson thinks about this spring training.
Notes on Chance Sisco, Alex Cobb from the stretch, and more (Steve Melewski)
If you missed it over the weekend, Alex Cobb is tinkering with pitching from the stretch all of the time. Can’t hurt to try new things in spring training.
Birthdays and anniversaries
One current Oriole has a birthday today. Happy 27th birthday to Trey Mancini. There also a few former Orioles who were born on this day: 2010-11 backup catcher Craig Tatum, 1997 outfielder Geronimo Berroa, 1977 one-gamer Randy Miller, and the late Dick Littlefield, who pitched in three games for the 1954 Orioles.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: 22nd/24th president Grover Cleveland (1837), diesel engine inventor Rudolf Diesel (1858), actor Peter Graves (1926), novelist John Updike (1932), Ben and Jerry’s Ben Cohen (1951), actress Vanessa Williams (1963), gold medal speed skater Bonnie Blair (1964), rapper/actress Queen Latifah (1970), music show man Adam Levine (1979), and musician Lykke Li (1986).
On this day in history...
In 1314, the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake in France. The king of France of that time, Philip IV, was in debt to the Knights, and arranged for a variety of torture-induced confessions as a pretext to seize their wealth and avoid the debt.
In 1892, Canada’s former Governor General, Lord Stanley, made a pledge to donate a silver challenge cup to be given as an award to the best hockey team in Canada.
In 1915, during World War I, a British and French naval attack on the Dardanelles was repulsed by the Ottoman Empire, at a cost of three battleships. After this failure, the powers that be decided on an invasion at Gallipoli.
In 1968, Congress repealed the “gold standard” - the requirement that there be gold reserves to back American currency.
In 1990, over the course of 81 minutes, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and stole 13 pieces of art worth over $500 million, including multiple pieces of art by Rembrandt and Degas. This is recognized as the biggest value theft of private property in history. The thieves were never caught and none of the art has been found.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on March 18 - or at least, until something happens later down in Florida. Have a safe Monday.