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Wednesday Bird Droppings: The eve of Opening Day!

As the start of the 2021 season nears, we look back at the spring that was while dreaming on the future that could be.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning Birdland,

The Orioles have done it yet again. They have made me excited to watch them play 162 games this summer despite there being plenty of evidence to suggest that they will, in fact, be quite bad.

Call me a sucker, but this franchise has my heart. Sure, they might lose 100 games. But they will also have Trey Mancini making a triumphant return from cancer, and Austin Hays suddenly turning into an absolute stud in the outfield, and Ryan Mountcastle rising to stardom, and John Means getting back into all-star form, and Tanner Scott twisting hitters in knots with his wipe-out slider.

Staying positive is the only way to make it through a massive rebuild like this with some sanity. So, these are the sorts of things I have to tell myself every time I purposefully seek-out something like Adam Plutko’s Baseball Savant page in search of some undiscovered morsel of talent that will make him an Orioles superstar. The alternative is questioning why I spend so much time thinking about a sports team that will end up as an also-ran most years, but that doesn’t seem as enjoyable.

I maintain that the Orioles will eventually win a World Series in my lifetime—heck, maybe even a couple—and while that probably isn’t happening this year, it does provide further build-up for what will be the ultimate pay-off as a sports fan. After all, there is no climax without conflict. The Orioles just happen to be in the midst of 40 years worth of conflict.

Links & Notes

Five things we learned from Orioles spring training | The Baltimore Sun
Jon Meoli makes a point in here about how the Orioles front office has evolved in how they view spring training performance. While it’s still unlikely they would make decisions based entirely on how a player does in the Grapefruit League, it certainly seems more important now than it used to be. Could be something worth watching in future years.

Orioles’ familiar pitching challenges in unique year mean success will be simply surviving | The Baltimore Sun
This type of amorphous goal is why the Orioles are hanging onto guys like Wade LeBlanc, Tyler Wells, and Mac Sceroler. It would seem unlikely that they actually expect all three of those pitchers to make it until the end of the season in Baltimore, but if they can each toss a few innings now, then that can help protect the higher-end prospects that are not yet in the bigs.

Callis compares Wieters with Rutschman and more | Steve Melewski
This is the kind of stuff you want to read as Opening Day approaches in a season that might a be a bit rough at the big league level. Adley Rutschman gets props, and the O’s system is praised in general. Give me more!

2021 Positional Power Rankings: Starting Rotation (No. 16-30) | FanGraphs
I have gone on record a couple times saying that, in general, I don’t think this Orioles team is all that bad. The outfield is extremely talented. The bullpen is speckled with some lowkey studs. And the infield should be serviceable, especially now that Trey Mancini is the everyday first baseman. But man, the rotation has a chance to be a really, really bad, and that would make everything much more difficult.

Predicting The Orioles 2021 Season (Ep. 62) | The Warehouse Podcast
If you need some audio accompaniment to get your through one last day without baseball on the TV, you can give my podcast a peek. We made season predictions that are sure to completely fall apart in shockingly short order.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday! The only former Oriole born on this day is the late Dave Koslo (b. 1920, d. 1975). The pitcher spent 12 years in the big leagues, including a three-game stint with the 1954 O’s.

Orioles history

1958 - The O’s add Gene Woodling and Dick Williams from Cleveland in exchange for Larry Doby and Don Ferrarese.

1969 - Utility infielder Chico Salmon moves from the Seattle Pilots to the Orioles in a trade for hurler Gene Brabender.

2005 - The Orioles come to an agreement with Major League Baseball on a deal to allow the newly relocated Nationals franchise to broadcast their games on TV in what was previously considered “Orioles territory”