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Thursday Bird Droppings: In which Zac Lowther’s baseball cards are news

Yesterday was what you might call a slow news day in Birdland, so Zac Lowther’s baseball card collection might be the biggest news.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now four months and 17 days left to go until the next scheduled Orioles game, which is Opening Day 2022. For those who find comfort in the milestone of pitchers and catchers reporting for the start of spring training, you’ve only got to wait another two months and four days. All of this continues to assume that the anticipated owner lockout (if the CBA expires without a new contract at midnight on December 2) does not impact the 2022 league calendar.

Whatever happens in the beginning of December, the next relevant offseason deadline for the Orioles remains November 19. That is the day that the team must decide which of its Rule 5 draft-eligible prospects - broadly, 2017 high school draftees (like DL Hall) and 2018 college draftees (like Kyle Bradish) - it wants to add to the 40-man roster.

There are 32 players on the 40-man currently, leaving the Orioles with plenty of space to protect whatever prospects they deem worthy of protection.

One player who might be a bit of a dark horse as a possible 40-man addition is reliever Nick Vespi, who is currently assigned out to the Arizona Fall League. Vespi, 26, was an 18th round pick all the way back in the 2015 draft. He has pitched well out in Arizona and yesterday was named to the league’s Fall Stars Game, the lone O’s representative there. He had a 1.42 ERA in 14 games for Bowie this year before getting promoted to Norfolk and having things go much less well.

In the Dan Duquette years, the Arizona Fall League tended to be a place where next year’s surprise reliever find would get some action. This is only the second AFL group of the Mike Elias years, so he may view those assignments differently. Neither reliever assigned to the AFL in 2019 - Cody Carroll and David Lebron - turned into a big factor for the 2020 Birds.

No offense meant to Vespi, but it would be a lot more fun as an Orioles fan to think about the AFL this year if Kyle Stowers and Yusniel Diaz had not each gotten hurt and ended up leaving the league early. Hopefully those early shutdowns, which have been said to be precautionary to ensure the players are fully prepared at the start of spring training, do not turn out to be a harbinger of worse news later on.

Around the blogO’sphere

Before Adley Rutschman arrives, Orioles have plenty of veteran options to choose from at catcher for 2022. Here’s who fits. (The Baltimore Sun)
Twelve years ago, the Orioles had Chad Moeller around until Matt Wieters got called up. Next year we’re probably going to see a 2022 equivalent of Moeller. Jon Meoli also looks at some of the minor league free agent guys. You can be sure it’s a thorough list when it’s considering Meibrys Viloria and P.J. Higgins. I will tell you straight: I have not, before this moment, considered either of those gentlemen in any way.

If Kjerstad produces as expected, O’s have deep depth in the outfield (Steve Melewski)
Dan Duquette was fond of proclaiming deep depth in situations where the Orioles did not have any depth and as a result I have a difficult time taking the term seriously. Still, I hope Heston Kjerstad can get himself back in the mix.

Zac Lowther is holding all the cards when it comes to his hobby (Baltimore Baseball)
If you don’t follow him on Twitter, you may not know that Zac Lowther is really, really, really into collecting baseball cards.

Baltimore Orioles are at a critical point in their tanking rebuild (Forbes)
The Orioles, having been deemed the worst team, have their franchise outlook article come up first in Forbes. Among other things, I disagree with the writer’s claim that the Orioles are four full seasons into their tanking endeavor, because the whole point of 2018 is they weren’t tanking but still sucked anyway, and 2020 wasn’t a full season and also wasn’t a continuation of embarrassing performance.

Orioles agree to contract terms with Rico Garcia (School of Roch)
Most minor league contracts don’t end up mattering. For those who are truly starved for Orioles news, you can look into one of the options for reliever depth.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 1970, Boog Powell was named the winner of the American League MVP award, becoming the third player in franchise history to win MVP. Boog, the runner up in 1969, took the hardware by batting .297/.412/.549. In that season, this was good for an OPS+ of 163. Only two Orioles have topped 163 OPS+ in a season since 1970: Ken Singleton with 165 in 1977 and Chris Davis with 168 in 2013.

In 1982, Joe Altobelli was named as the replacement after Earl Weaver’s then-temporary retirement.

In 2014, Buck Showalter was named the American League Manager of the Year. In contrast to the previous Orioles manager to win the award, Showalter was not driven out of town on the day he won the award.

There are two former Orioles with a birthday today. They are: 2007 reserve J.R. House, and 1963 seven-game pitcher Ike Delock. Today is Delock’s 92nd birthday, so an extra happy birthday to him.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821), WWII Army General George Patton (1885), baseball Hall of Famers Rabbit Maranville (1891) and Pie Traynor (1898), novelist Kurt Vonnegut (1922), actor Stanley Tucci (1960), actress Demi Moore (1962), and actor Leonardo DiCaprio (1974).

On this day in history...

In 1215, the Fourth Council of the Lateran met after having been called by Pope Innocent III. This council defined the doctrine of transubstantiation, or the process that causes bread and wine to be transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

In 1831, Nat Turner was hanged after having incited a slave rebellion.

In 1918, the armistice that ended fighting in World War I was signed. Elsewhere in Europe, the Emperor of Austria issued a proclamation in which he renounced participation in world affairs, functionally ending centuries of Habsburg rule, though he did attempt to regain the throne of Hungary in 1922.

In 1940, during World War II, the British Navy launched an attack on the Italian fleet at harbor in Taranto. The attack was carried out entirely by aircraft, making this battle the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship combat in naval history. It was a British victory, though not a decisive one, as the Italian Navy proved capable of continued operations in the short term.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on November 11. Have a safe Thursday. To all the veterans of the armed forces of America, thank you.