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Thursday Bird Droppings: Pulling for a hometown Orioles prospect

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Among the Orioles non-roster invitees is Baltimore’s own Bruce Zimmermann, who’s hoping to pull off the John Means offseason transformation.

Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 56 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. The 1956 Orioles wrapped up their season with a 69-85 record, missing out on first place in the American League by 28 games. Left fielder Bob Nieman was the team leader with 4.0 bWAR even though the team only acquired him on May 26. This performance got him 7th place in the MVP voting.

The start of spring training is now a mere 12 days away. The team right now is probably the team that will be showing up in Sarasota, and the team that shows up in Baltimore will probably be made out of the players who are in the organization right now. Unless there’s a little surprise, like another Wade LeBlanc-tier signing. Yeah, these are exciting times.

Since there isn’t much to say about the Orioles themselves, I’d like to bring to your attention the work of an Astros fan who took it upon himself to determine just how often the 2017 Astros were doing the trash can banging thing. The result showed a scheme that blew up starting around Memorial Day with a game against the Orioles. This was the first game where double digit trash can bangs were detected.

In this game, Alec Asher was bombed out of the game after two innings, with six earned runs allowed. As anyone knows who watched the 2017 Orioles, or for that matter, any of the last four or five Orioles teams, an obvious answer was always present for when they pitched poorly. That is that they were bad pitchers who were not up to the task of succeeding in MLB, placed in those positions by bad talent evaluation on the part of the Orioles that put them in those positions to begin with.

Asher threw 60 innings at the MLB level in 2017. That game represented 1/6 of the runs he gave up for the season. Without it, his ERA would have been 4.50 - still not great, but better than 5.25. When some people who were upset about the sign-stealing scandal talked about players whose opportunities were taken away from them by the Astros cheating and kicking their butts, that might be the kind of thing they meant.

The Orioles were swept in the three-game series. The website doesn’t have data for the first two games, in which the O’s lost 2-0 and 5-2. Kevin Gausman giving up two runs in 6.2 innings looks even better now.

Around the blogO’sphere

Looking at 10 intriguing names among the Orioles’ non-roster invites (The Athletic)
There aren’t ten intriguing non-roster invites, which will never stop any determined editor from assigning a list of ten nor any determined or desperate-for-an-idea writer from writing such a list.

An interesting name on the non-roster invite list, plus other notes (Steve Melewski)
Steve much more reasonably dives into just one name, Cristian Alvarado, who would be of interest because the righty reliever would mark the first time the Orioles had a home-grown Venezuelan player.

‘Next level’: How an Elkridge gym helped Orioles prospect Bruce Zimmermann prepare for a critical season (Baltimore Sun)
John Means went from barely-prospect in 2018 to All-Star in 2019, in part thanks to a private offseason program. If Maryland native Bruce Zimmermann can improve on his barely-prospect status in a similar way, that would be a cool 2020+ Orioles storyline.

Notes on Trumbo, Jannis, and Valaika (School of Roch)
Have you heard the news? The Orioles found a knuckleballer. 32-year-old Mickey Jannis spent last year at Double-A, but he’s still young in knuckler years.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 1978/80 pitcher Joe Kerrigan, 1965-72 second baseman and 1996-97 manager Davey Johnson, and the late Walt Dropo of the 1959-61 Orioles.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: 32nd president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882), historian Barbara Tuchman (1912), actor Gene Hackman (1930), musician Phil Collins (1951), and WWE personality Becky Lynch (1987).

On this day in history...

In 1661, supporters of the restored English monarchy dug up the two-years-dead body of Oliver Cromwell, hung the corpse in chains, then beheaded the corpse. Cromwell’s skeletal head remained on a spike until 1685, and wasn’t reburied until 1960.

In 1835, a man attempted to shoot President Andrew Jackson. He was not successful and was subdued by several people, including Jackson. This was the first attempt of an assassination of a US president.

In 1945, US Army Rangers and Filipino guerrillas raided a POW camp at Cabanatuan, 30 miles behind enemy lines, successfully rescuing over 500 prisoners who had been held by the Japanese.

In 1968, during the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive against the Americans and South Vietnamese. The attacks were repulsed, though Tet is seen as a turning point for the American public against the war.

In 1969, the Beatles gave an impromptu concert on the roof of Apple Records in London. It was eventually broken up by police. This was their final concert.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on January 30 - or at least, unless something happens later. Have a safe Thursday.