Good morning, Birdland!
This time of year is often slow around baseball. It’s the only major American sport that is “off” for the holiday season. As such, players, agents, and front office execs alike seem happy to step away from business for a while and pick things back up in the new year. That is especially true this year. With the lockout in full swing, not a creature in the proverbial house is stirring.
There has been some interesting news on the international side this month, though. Yasiel Puig signed on with a KBO squad. Freddy Galvis is headed to Japan. He made it official this week. That’s where Breyvic Valera will also be playing his baseball in 2022.
Valera was one of the players in the trade package that the Orioles received for Manny Machado in 2018. His stay in Baltimore was short as the Mike Elias-led regime cast him aside in their first offseason at the helm.
This exodus of fringy big leaguers to foreign markets makes sense given current circumstances. Those type of players are those that have lost out the most in baseball’s salary landscape. It’s one that favors either the immensely talented or the incredibly young, while all those in between get squeezed. Throw in the uncertainty of a labor dispute, and it makes the allure of guaranteed money elsewhere even more convincing.
Brooks Kriske made the same professional decision earlier this offseason. The 27-year-old appeared in four games for the Orioles last year, and may have been in contention for a bullpen spot in the spring. But that was far from a certainty, and he was more likely to find himself on a shuttle between Baltimore and Norfolk or off the 40-man roster altogether.
It would be neat to have an MLB.tv sort of option to watch these NPB or KBO games. The early pandemic days were filled with early hours of KBO action for me, and I would certainly put them on again if given an easy enough way to do so.
While there is clearly a difference in overall ability between MLB and those two leagues, the competition is still high enough to be engaging, and there is the chance to see a future star before they make it mainstream. If MLB’s labor dispute eats into the season at all, that sort of option would be mighty appealing to those of us feeling baseball starved.
Hays is the kind of player Orioles can build around | Steve Melewski
The pessimistic side of me cannot help but see the similarities between Austin Hays and Nolan Reimold. But that usually fades when I acknowledge that Hays has always been regarded more highly than Reimold ever was. Hays probably won’t be a star, but there is reason to think he can be an everyday contributor to some really good Orioles teams.
A Rule 5 Draft candidate from every AL team | The Athletic
Nick Vespi gets mentioned here, and I think that makes a lot of sense. He’s a lefty that impressed this fall and looks close to ready. I thought the O’s may have protected him instead of Logan Gillaspie.
Fewer strikeouts and more walks should be a goal for Orioles; Another catcher signed; Canada’s vaccine rules | Baltimore Baseball
Saying that a team should strikeout less and walk more is great. But there is no switch to flip here. High strikeouts and low walks are fine when accompanied by significant power, and there are players on the Orioles for which that is true, but it isn’t enough of them. It’s something that won’t change until the level of talent on the squad jumps up a notch (or five) and not before.
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
- Jeremy Accardo turns 40. The righty appeared in 31 games for the 2011 Birds.
- Doug Johns is 54. The southpaw had a two-season stint in Baltimore from 1998-99.
- Chito Martinez celebrates his 56th. The only MLB player in history from Belize was a backup outfielder in Baltimore from 1991-93.
- Mike Fetters has his 57th birthday. The righty spent just the 1999 season in Charm City.
This weekend in O’s history
1976 - Minutes after the conclusion of the Colts loss to the Steelers, a single-engine plane crashes into the upper deck at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.
1991 - The O’s sign former Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe.