Good morning, Camden Chatters.
After a dynamite Game 5 of the World Series, today is the final travel day before things are decided once and for all in Houston this weekend. The Astros took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 3-2 victory, putting Trey Mancini one win away from a championship ring. Mancini, despite going hitless again last night, played a key role in the win, spearing a Kyle Schwarber scorcher in the eighth that would have tied the game or given the Phillies the lead had it eluded him.
By Sunday at the latest, the Series will be over, a champion will be crowned, and it will officially be time to shift our focus to the Orioles’ offseason maneuvering. If Mike Elias is to be believed, the O’s could be major players in the hot stove action — not ponying up for the likes of Aaron Judge, of course, but perhaps significantly increasing their payroll to sign a legitimate free agent or two, while dealing from their organizational depth to swing some notable trades.
One of Elias’s major issues to tackle will be the infield, where the O’s suddenly have more talent than they know what to do with. Case in point: Ramón Urías just became the Orioles’ first Gold Glove winner since 2015, and the only O’s third baseman to win the award besides Brooks Robinson and Manny Machado...and yet he might not even have a guaranteed starting job for the Birds next year, as both Dan Connolly and Rich Dubroff have written recently.
Rookie sensation Gunnar Henderson, who arrived in the majors with a bang late this year, figures to have the inside track on the starting third base job. Jorge Mateo, who in a fair world would have won a Gold Glove himself, should stay at shortstop. Urías could shift to second base, where he played 21 games this season, but #5 prospect Jordan Westburg is beating down the door for a major league call-up after a strong finish at Triple-A, and #11 prospect Connor Norby, who also finished the season with Norfolk, isn’t far behind. And then there’s shortstop Joey Ortiz, who is rocketing up the prospect rankings after a stellar 2022 season that ended in, yes, Triple-A.
If Westburg, Norby, and Ortiz all make their MLB debuts in 2023, that makes Urías one of six infielders competing for three spots, without even considering any outside acquisitions the Orioles could make. I’m glad it’s not my job to figure out how to sort this all out.
So yes, there’s a good chance that Urías, fresh off winning a Gold Glove and posting the third-best bWAR (3.6) of any Oriole in 2022, might be relegated to a super-utility role if he stays with the Birds, or could be trade bait.
When was the last time the Orioles had so many good players that they didn’t have room for them all? I guess that’s what you’d call a good problem to have. And it’s a clear sign of how drastically the talent level of the organization has improved.
Urías reacts to first Gold Glove and updates knee injury - School of Roch
One guy who wasn't shocked by Urías’s Gold Glove win was Urías himself. Dude knew how good he was at third base. But he added that he’ll happily play any position the Orioles want him to.
Heston Kjerstad finally starts Orioles career after dealing with a heart problem - The Athletic
Kjerstad says he almost went crazy with boredom while having to wait out his myocarditis and got tired of reading books. Sounds like someone needs to invest in a PlayStation.
The big man with a big arm had a big year for the Orioles - Steve Melewski
Part of me is worried that Félix Bautista won't ever have a season as good as 2022 again, but another part of me says, “Shove it, Paul, and let’s enjoy this guy’s awesomeness for as long as we can.”
Trey Mancini’s former manager appreciative of World Series recognition after cancer diagnosis - The Athletic
In case you missed the sad news, former Orioles player and minor league coach Ryan Minor was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. Trey Mancini, classy as always, gave him a touching tribute in the World Series.
Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on this day: outfielder Larry Bigbie (45); right-hander Doug Corbett (70); and the late utility man Tito Francona (b. 1933, d. 2018), who was runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year in his debut season with the Birds in 1955.
On this day in 1975, Jim Palmer won the second of his three career Cy Young awards, beating out Yankees ace Catfish Hunter by taking home 15 of the 22 first-place votes. It was an easy call. Palmer’s 8.4 bWAR was the best in the American League, including position players (though he finished just sixth in the AL MVP vote, won by Boston’s Fred Lynn). Palmer led the league in wins (23), ERA (2.09) and shutouts (10) while throwing 323 innings.
And on this day in 2014, a stupendous Orioles defense racked up three Gold Glove awards, with center fielder Adam Jones winning his fourth, shortstop J.J. Hardy his third, and right fielder Nick Markakis his second. That was the fourth of a marvelous five-year stretch in which the O’s racked up Gold Gloves every year, winning 12 of them from 2011-15, but they then went dry for six years before Urías’s win earlier this week.