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Wednesday Bird Droppings: The depth of the AL East on full display

It’s going to quite the feat if/when the Orioles return to relevance in baseball’s best division.

Wild Card Round - New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Good morning Birdland,

Well, that Wild Card game was bit of a dud, no? Gerrit Cole was lifted early and out-pitched by Nathan Eovaldi, and the Green Monster denied Giancarlo Stanton of what could have been a three-homer night. Fenway was rocking, which is always a spectacle on TV, but this game never felt particularly close.

It was just further evidence that the AL East is an absolute beast. Aaron Boone is probably out as manager of the Yankees despite the playoff berth. His team joins the 91-win Blue Jays at home, and the Red Sox are rewarded for their hard work with an ALDS matchup against the 100-win Rays.

And then you have our beloved O’s down at the bottom of the division. It’s going to be a long climb to get back to relevance in the East. Each of those teams should be good again in 2022 and 2023...and 2024. You get the idea.

But that does not matter at this exact moment. Instead, we can relish in the fact that the big bad Yankees got to play just one more game than the Orioles this season. Petty as it may be, it’s also a little fun.

Links & Notes

Putting Hays in corner an appealing move for Orioles | School of Roch
I think Austin Hays is good now. Yes, it would be nice to see him get on base a little more often overall, but he is a very valuable player as is. He plays good defense, he showed impressive power, and, most importantly, he showed up this season. Keeping Hays healthy should continue to be a top priority for the O’s. He was worth 3.2 bWAR. That’s the guy he was expected to be when he was ranking on Top 100 lists a few years ago.

Five things we learned from the Orioles’ 2021 season | The Baltimore Sun
The next 12 months are a crucial part of this team’s massive rebuild. They need to add pitching this offseason. They need to think long and hard about shopping for a shortstop. And then next season all eyes will be on the top-tier prospects to tear through the minors and be set up for what should be an exciting 2023.

Some of the top farm pitchers get closer to Baltimore | Steve Melewski
The Orioles have a slew of interesting arms. They need more, of course, but it’s a good base of talent. The big league rotation is still kind of a mess even though the starters were much better down the stretch. We saw this year that you cannot expect rookies to reliably fill three spots for an entire year, and it would be a bummer to watch that again in 2022.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Matt Wotherspoon turns 30. Both of his career MLB games came out of the 2019 O’s bullpen.
  • Radhames Liz celebrates his 38th. The right-handed pitcher appeared in 28 games for the Birds between 2007 and 2009.
  • Freddy García is 45 years old. His major league career spanned 15 seasons, including an 11-game stint with the 2013 O’s.
  • Happy 62nd to Greg Walker. The first baseman wrapped up his career with 14 games on the 1990 O’s after parts of nine seasons with the Chicago White Sox.
  • The late Joe Frazier (d. 2011) was born on this day in 1922. He played for three different teams during the 1956 season, including 45 games with the Birds.

Orioles history

1966 - O’s 20-year-old righty Jim Palmer becomes the youngest pitcher with a World Series shutout as he beats Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-0.

1983 - Mike Boddicker sets a playoff-record with 14 strikeouts as the O’s beat the White Sox 4-0 in Game 2 of the ALCS.