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Thursday Bird Droppings: The five days until spring training edition

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Eight years ago today, the Orioles traded Jeremy Guthrie and got Jason Hammel. The 2020 O’s will be thinking longer-term for any trades they make.

Cleveland Indians v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 49 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. The number 49 was worn most recently by Cody Carroll in 2018 after the O’s got him in the Zack Britton trade. Perhaps he’ll wear it again if he gets healthy enough for MLB action. It’s also been worn by Jason Berken, Hayden Penn, Armando Benitez, and Todd Frohwirth, whose side-arming action made him one of the random favorite Orioles of my childhood.

Just five days stand between now and pitchers and catchers reporting for the start of spring training. Some of those pitchers and catchers will be traipsing across Maryland as part of the Birdland Caravan this weekend. Are you planning to go to any of these events? I hope you have fun.

While the baseball world was buzzing yesterday with the trade of Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, the Orioles slipped in a little news of their own. Recently-DFA’d Branden Kline and Stevie Wilkerson each cleared waivers. Both were outrighted to Norfolk, with Wilkerson choosing to remain with the organization rather than become a free agent. They’ve also each been invited to spring training, now as non-roster invitees.

The grim predictions for 2020 O’s performance continue to trickle in. Not surprisingly, Betts and Price exiting the AL East late in the process doesn’t lead anyone to believe that the door is now open for the Orioles.

Earlier this week, the USA Today sports folks predicted a 57-105 record from the 2020 Orioles. That’s horrible enough to be no fun for fans, yet not horrible enough for them to be the worst team in MLB, at least by this guess. The 2020 Tigers are predicted for a 54-108 record, just like the 2019 O’s had. This would make Detroit the winner of the “FUBAR for Kumar” competition - that is, the team set to pick #1 in the 2021 draft.

For a lot of last season, I wanted to see the Orioles win the #1 pick in this June’s draft. It’s not that I wanted the Orioles to be the worst, but I figured as long as I had to watch them be as bad as they were, they might as well be the worst. I feel the same about 2020, but I won’t mind at all if younger players come up and help them win more games in August and September.

Around the blogO’sphere

Top 40 Orioles prospects (Fangraphs)
Two years ago, the Orioles only had 20 prospects worth mentioning. Last year, they had 32. Progress! Whether enough of them develop into good enough players to make the Orioles good is the multi-million dollar question. It seems like a lot depends on how many of the starting pitchers stick as starters, or fail into successful relievers.

And now a pair of questions from the MASN duo...

Will the Orioles offense improve in 2020? (Steve Melewski)
Can the Orioles bullpen provide more relief in 2020? (School of Roch)
The Orioles didn’t exactly make moves this offseason with the goal of getting better in 2020, so it’s easy to have a reflex answer of no to both of these questions. There is at least potential for modest improvement in both areas, though.

Which Orioles pitcher are you most interested in watching in spring training? (The Athletic)
It seems like Keegan Akin is the closest to an MLB debut, as long as he doesn’t completely stink - so I’m interested in seeing in spring training that he doesn’t completely stink.

Roster preview: Trey Mancini and a group of up-and-comers create fascinating outfield picture (Baltimore Sun)
Camden Chat’s Andrea SK wrote last week about how the O’s outfield should be improved this year. Now you can hear it from a beat writer too.

Fredi Gonzalez brings years of managerial experience to Orioles coaching staff (Baltimore Baseball)
Rich Dubroff interviewed the O’s new Major League Coach on Brandon Hyde’s staff, former Marlins and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2012, the Orioles traded Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. Although the trade was scoffed at by a variety of baseball analysts, Hammel ended up being a key part of the 2012 team’s success.

One lone former Oriole was born on this day. Happy 33rd birthday to Pedro Alvarez, who showed up and hit a couple of handfuls of home runs in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt (1748), Hamilton shooter Aaron Burr (1756), baseball legend Babe Ruth (1895), 40th president Ronald Reagan (1911), actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917), TV news man Tom Brokaw (1940), musician Bob Marley (1945), and Guns N’ Roses vocaliat Axl Rose (1962).

On this day in history...

In 60, the earliest day for which the day of the week is known took place, as historians have determined the day was a Sunday. By modern reckoning, though, it would have been a Wednesday.

In 1862, during the Civil War, a Ulysses S. Grant-led force captured Fort Henry in Tennessee, the first significant Union victory of the war.

In 1899, the US Senate ratified the Treaty of Paris, which settled the previous year’s Spanish-American War. The American victory in the conflict brought Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines in as American territories.

In 1952, the United Kingdom’s George VI passed away, making his daughter, Elizabeth, the Queen. She remains the queen today.

In 1988, Michael Jordan took off for a dunk from the free throw line for the first time, inspiring Nike’s Air Jordan campaign and the “Jumpman” silhouette.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 6 - or at least, unless something happens later. Have a safe Thursday.