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Weekend Bird Droppings: Minor league news is the only news

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We twiddle our thumbs as baseball remains on pause.

Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles

Good morning, Birdland!

The only thing going on in baseball right now is the Mets manager search and minor league player signings. That’s it.

It makes me think about minor league baseball’s place in all of this. The most important element there is the treatment of the players. Their wages, for the most part, are ridiculous low. The living accommodations made for them, until recently, were absurd. And then, of course, there is the amount of control teams have over them, which artificially suppresses the amount those players can make in their careers.

There is the possibility that some of these things are addressed in the renegotiated CBA, but since non-40-man players are not part of the players union it is more likely that they are left to fend for themselves.

To me, MLB’s entire handling of their minor league clubs is a miscalculation. These teams bring high-quality, professional baseball to towns that are often too far from major cities for their populations to access Major League games with any sort of regularity. So what did MLB do ladt year? They reduced the size of MiLB by 25%.

There are options to watch these games if you aren’t at the stadium. MiLB.TV exists, and it is plenty affordable. But the camera quality and availability of games is less than ideal.

This is not a criticism of the folks working the games. I was a video production intern for the IronBirds years ago, so I understand that it is often college kids just trying to figure things out, or overworked employees that also sell tickets and do five other things at the park. I’m cool with odd angles and imperfect focus on occasion. But increasing the access, quality and number of cameras for teams is something that parent clubs could do to improve the experience across the board.

And why can’t there be agreements done with regional sports networks to show these games on TV? MASN broadcasts old mid-major college basketball games and some of the cheesiest sports shows I have ever seen throughout the day. I think they could find some air time to show a Baysox game on days that the Orioles or Nationals are off.

Links

The Future is Bright: Gunnar Henderson Moving Up the Ranks | Orioles.com
It will be interesting to see how CBA negotiations alter service time manipulation. Those discussions will directly impact a player like Gunnar Henderson. The 20-year-old was one of the fastest risers in the Orioles system in 2021, playing at three levels, including a cup of coffee with Double-A Bowie. It’s entirely possible that he experiences growing pains in 2022 and needs a full season on the farm, but it’s just as possible that he continues his upward trajectory and knocks on the big league door. If service time manipulation is addressed, that could be the difference between a Baltimore debut in ‘22 or ‘23.

O’s add RHP Wilson on Minor League deal | MLB.com
This is pretty old news by now, but it’s still interesting to see how the Orioles are addressing their upper minors pitching this offseason. Tommy Wilson sounds like the type of arm that organizations love to have in Triple-A at this point in their careers. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and has a changeup that works. As the Orioles attempt to rebuild their bullpen, it’s entirely possible (although perhaps unlikely) that a player like this turns into a useful middle-inning reliever in the future. Just gotta keep throwing informed darts at the board.

Leftovers for breakfast | School of Roch
The O’s made a flurry of signings of players that will slot into their DSL squad. Roch doesn’t have much on them, and I have even less. It will be a glorious day when the recent investments that the organization has made into Latin America finally turns into big league talent. It takes time, of course.

Even in minor league Rule 5 draft, Orioles’ holistic pitching philosophy remains consistent in pursuit of weapons | The Baltimore Sun
As always, Jon Meoli points out the logic behind the Orioles moves. There is a method to Mike Elias’s madness. It won’t always work out for individual players, but there are enough indications to think that it is going to work for the Orioles overall.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Garrett Atkins turns 42 this weekend. The corner infielder had a solid seven-season run in Colorado before moving to Baltimore in 2010. His lone season in the Charm City did not go well; he posted a 55 OPS+ and was released mid-July.
  • The late Hal Brown (d. 2015) was born this weekend in 1924. A right-handed pitcher, Brown spent eight seasons with the O’s from 1955 through 1961. Over 204 total appearances he had a 3.61 ERA while striking out 422 in 1030.2 innings.

This weekend in O’s history

1959 - Lee MacPhail is elected as Orioles president.

1984 - The O’s sign outfielder Fred Lynn to a four-season contract.

1992 - Free agent infielder Harold Reynolds signs on with the Orioles.

1993 - Rafael Palmeiro begins his first stint in Baltimore, signs a free agent deal with the Orioles.

1997 - Doug Drabek ends his free agency, signs with O’s.

1997 - World Series hero with the Blue Jays, slugger Joe Carter signs with the Orioles.

1999 - The Orioles send infielder Jeff Reboulet to the Royals in exchange for a player to be named later.

2007 - A big trade! The Orioles trade their shortstop Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros in exchange for Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate, and Michal Costanzo.