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Thursday Bird Droppings: The Orioles may face the toughest 2020 schedule of any team

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Barring another late surprise, the 2020 Orioles season is less than a month away. The O’s will not get many easy games.

MLB Opening Day Postponed Due To Coronavirus Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

In six more days, Orioles players will be reporting back to a second “spring” training, and in less than one month, they are expected to begin the abbreviated 2020 baseball season. Whether that actually happens is something we’ll learn over a month from now, but for me at least, it’s exciting that we’re back on the road to when there will be MLB games again.

Between now and then, there’s going to be a lot to sort out for the Orioles. With teams likely to get in shape for the coming season in their home cities rather than more centrally located spring training locations, the typical shakedown action of exhibition games won’t be there, or at least not as easily. Are they going to just play the Nationals every day for a week? It is currently a mystery.

When spring training was suspended back in March, the Orioles were making decisions with an eye on having a 26-man Opening Day roster. Now, there will be a 30-man roster on Opening Day. In some ways, that makes decisions easier because they don’t have to make as many cuts. They’re also going to have to decide who they want to have on a 20-man taxi squad.

This is all not even getting into the elephant in the room, with there presently being no way to know how COVID-19 will impact the makeup of the actual roster. Earlier this week, there was news that three Rockies players, including All-Star Charlie Blackmon, had tested positive.

This kind of thing could disrupt any team at any time, and that’s not even getting into whether or not players choose to opt out of participating in the season if they have an underlying condition that would put them more at risk of suffering severe problems if they contract COVID. One or two players deciding to take that option would probably result in a big shakeup to the roster you might have expected in March.

Until real baseball gets going again, there’s still the simulated baseball brought to us by Baseball Reference’s Out of the Park Baseball-powered sim. Yesterday was not a good day for the sim Orioles, who got their butts kicked by the Yankees, 15-4. Though the O’s were only out-hit 13-11, the Yankees thrashed them for four home runs. John Means had a rough day, giving up six runs in three innings. His ERA in this sim is now 6.43.

One bright spot for these simulated O’s remains DJ Stewart, who had a 3-5 game out of the leadoff spot here. This imaginary version of Stewart is now hitting .374/.420/.727 in 32 games. It’ll be fun if someone on the Orioles has such a 32 game hot streak in them once real baseball resumes.

Around the blogO’sphere

Orioles FAQ: Details on the upcoming season (Orioles.com)
Joe Trezza has some details and some speculation on how the Orioles will be able to make use of the expanded roster and taxi squad that’s available to them this year.

The obscenely late, obscenely early ZiPS projected standings (Fangraphs)
Before anyone starts getting too excited about 2020 Orioles baseball, the Orioles have the hardest strength of schedule and are projected to have the worst record of any MLB team. Well, that’s good news for the “FUBAR for Kumar” movement, anyway.

Bleier on staying ready for season and reconnecting with fans (School of Roch)
“Everybody has been throwing to hitters already, or at least multiple bullpens,” Bleier said. Sounds encouraging, although who knows whether this stuff will make a difference in their 2020 fortunes.

A look at Orioles post-draft math (Steve Melewski)
The Orioles have reportedly agreed on terms with their fourth and fifth round picks, but there hasn’t been much news yet about the guys higher than that.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 1999, Orioles reliever Jesse Orosco set a new record for relief appearances when he pitched in his 1,051st game of relief. The O’s lost the game, 9-8, despite Harold Baines homering twice.

There are a few former Orioles with birthdays today. They are: 2008-11 outfielder Luke Scott, 2000-01 pitcher Ryan Kohlmeier, and 1977 reliever Dick Drago.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: five-star general Hap Arnold (1886), British bigwig Louis Mountbatten (1900), author George Orwell (1903), musician Carly Simon (1945), Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor (1954), chef Anthony Bourdain (1956), and actress Mckenna Grace (2006).

On this day in history...

In 1876, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer had his last stand in the Battle of Little Bighorn.

In 1906, Pittsburgh millionaire Harry Thaw shot and killed architect Stanford White. Thaw’s wife, Evelyn Nesbit, had previously dated White. After what was dubbed the “trial of the century,” Thaw was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity.

In 1947, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was posthumously published.

In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, marking the beginning of the Korean War.

In 1978, the rainbow flag for gay pride was first flown. This took place during San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on June 25. Have a safe Monday.