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Friday Bird Droppings: Where hopes aren’t high for the 2020 Orioles

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National publications are issuing their MLB previews, and — spoiler alert — they don’t predict much success for the Birds this year.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles-Workouts Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

As of now, the Orioles are still on track to kick off the 2020 regular season in exactly one week. Time will tell whether they’ll be able to get through their full 60-game slate without the league shutting down, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume they do. It’ll be great to see baseball, but the particular brand of baseball we’ll be seeing from the Orioles might be, um, not so great.

The good folks over at FanGraphs are running through their annual MLB positional power ranking series, and as of this writing, they’ve unveiled seven positions, ranking each club from 1 to 30. The Orioles, so far, have an average ranking of 26.8, and they’ve rated in the bottom third of the league for all seven positions, including dead last at first base. The best Orioles ranking so far has been in center field, where they’re 22nd out of 30. And we haven’t even gotten to the pitchers yet, where the Orioles will surely rate at the bottom of the pack.

Similarly, NBC Sports’ Orioles preview is short on optimism for the club’s chances. “Given where the Orioles are right now, a short season is an act of mercy,” writes Craig Calcaterra. “They will finish in last place this year and the only thing keeping them from losing 100 is that they’re only playing 60.”

Harsh. But it’s hard to say they’re wrong, as most Orioles fans will attest. The O’s are still in the early stages of their rebuilding process — a process that was dealt a blow by the cancellation of the minor league season this year — and on paper, their major league roster is just as bad, if not worse, than the club that went 54-108 last year. They’ve lost their two best position players from last season, with Jonathan Villar traded to the Marlins and Trey Mancini undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, and solid if unspectacular starter Dylan Bundy was dealt to the Angels. They’ll also be playing a brutally difficult schedule against only AL East and NL East teams.

So, yes, there might not be a lot of winning in Baltimore during this truncated season. But if the Birds can provide some much-needed comfort and entertainment to their fans amidst the awfulness going on in the world right now, well, that may be the best we can ask for.

Links

Orioles turn up volume on intrasquad game - School of Roch
Last night’s intrasquad game might have been a harbinger of what we’ll see at Camden Yards during the regular season: piped-in crowd noise, walk-up music, and — oh yes — bad pitching.

Orioles prepare for roster decisions in final week before season; Start time for home night games changed for 2020 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
The Orioles are trying to whittle down to their Opening Day 30-man roster, but it can’t be easy when at any given moment COVID-19 could sideline a player for two weeks. I ask again: are we sure we should be playing baseball this year?

Wojciechowski preaches ‘love and unity’ - Orioles.com
Asher Wojciechowski is a good dude. A really good dude.

Secret meetings and the saddest, satisfying day: Inside the Beat, 2018 Orioles – The Athletic
Britt Ghiroli writes about her final year on the Orioles’ beat, the disastrous 2018 season. Among the choice excerpts, she notes that the front office threw a hissy fit and was “furious” that Adam Jones wouldn’t agree to be traded. The guy was the face of the franchise for over a decade and passionately involved in the community, and O’s execs acted like babies because he wanted to...gasp...stay in Baltimore? No wonder they got fired.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! No Oriole has ever been born on this day. Sorry, friend.

On this day in 1975, the O’s pulled off a dramatic win against the Twins, scoring two runs in the ninth to tie the game and then walking off on Elrod Hendricks’ three-run homer in the 12th.

In 1991 in Kansas City, Orioles DH Sam Horn became just the sixth player to strike out six times in a game (a list that now stands at eight), and the first non-pitcher ever to do it in six consecutive plate appearances. The Royals used five pitchers in the 15-inning game, and each one of them struck out Horn at least once.

And on this date in 1998, O’s slugger Rafael Palmeiro hit his 300th career home run, a two-run shot in Anaheim that led the Birds to a 4-1 win. Coincidentally, also hitting his 300th career homer that day was the White Sox’ Albert Belle, who the following season would replace Palmeiro in the Orioles’ lineup.