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Monday Bird Droppings: Where the pitching could be on the upswing

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The bullpen took a step forward in 2020 and the rotation shows promise. Could 2021 be a big year for Orioles pitching?

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Happy Monday, Camden Chatters! Christmas 2020 is over and I hope that those of you who celebrate were able to do so in a responsible but fulfilling way. Personally, I had a really lovely long weekend. The weather didn’t cooperate with letting me out of the house for any amount of time, but things were cozy and welcoming inside my house.

My three-year-old daughter really took to opening presents for the first time, and it was quite adorable. She didn’t quite understand why there were no gifts to unwrap on December 26th or 27th, or why suddenly starting on Saturday morning we wouldn’t let her listen to Christmas music nonstop, but she’ll get through it.

As for the Orioles, it was a quiet weekend for the team as expected. Not many deals happen on Christmas weekend. But passing the holiday is another milestone as we look forward to spring training and Opening Day, which is scheduled for just 95 days from now. We may not know what that day will look like for some time, but it’ll be here before we know it.

Links

Examining The Orioles Rotation - MLB Trade Rumors
I like this first line: "For the first time in a few years, the Baltimore Orioles plan to begin the 2021 season with a rotation that fans can dream on. "

Can Success Of Orioles’ Bullpen Continue In 2021? - PressBoxOnline.com
The Orioles’ bullpen took a giant step forward in 2020, albeit in a pandemic-shortened season. Matt Kremnitzer looks at some of the key pieces going forward and the outlook for 2021.

Former Braves Pitcher Phil 'Knucksie' Niekro Dies At 81 : NPR
The world lost another baseball legend this weekend, as knuckleballer Phil Niekro passed away at age 81. Niekro had an Orioles connection, too. He was hired by the team to teach minor leaguers in 2013.

Birthdays and History

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have four Orioles birthday buddies. Bill Hall turns 41 years old today. That’s right, Bill Hall was an Oriole! What do you mean, you don’t remember? The final seven games of Bill Hall’s major league career came with the Orioles in 2012. Happy birthday, Bill Hall! Thanks for your contribution to that playoff team.

In more recognizable former Oriole birthdays, today is the 45th birthday relief pitcher B.J. Ryan. Ryan was a stalwart in the O’s bullpen from 2000-2005, a rare solid performer during the depths of the dark days. In 2005 he racked up 36 saves just in time to sign a nice multi-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays ahead of the 2006 season.

In my hazy memory there was a lot of disappointment across Birdland that the Orioles wouldn’t pony up to keep their closer. Those voices didn’t go away when Ryan had an outstanding 2006, but ultimately he was a disappointment for the Blue Jays.

It’s also the birthday of Ray Knight (68), who played 150 games for the Orioles in 1987, and Aurelio Rodríguez (b. 1947, d. 2000), whose 17-year MLB career included 45 games for the 1983 World Series champions. He didn’t make it to the WS, though, as he was traded at the deadline to the team the Orioles would go on to defeat in the ALCS, the White Sox.

Per Baseball Reference, it was on this day in 2005 that the Orioles agreed to a two-year contract with Jeromy Burnitz. Weirdly, that’s where the Baseball Reference factoid ends. In reality, Burnitz never played for the Orioles. Burnitz and his agent said didn’t like how detailed the Orioles were requiring their physicals to be, and ended up signing a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates again. The Oriole didn’t buy that, believing Burnitz just changed his mind.

As Orioles fans, we’ve heard about the dreaded Orioles physical, and the Burnitz deal was one of the early versions of that story. As for Burnitz, he played 2006 with the Pirates, poorly, and his 2007 option was not picked up.