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Friday Bird Droppings: The commissioner speaks

Rob Manfred addressed the media yesterday and expressed hope for an on-time start to the regular season. It’s going to require much quicker progress in negotiations than we’ve seen so far.

MLB Owners Meetings Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

With the MLB lockout now more than two months old, commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the media for the first time yesterday from the MLB owners’ meeting in Orlando. Spoiler: he did not announce that the owners and players had instantaneously reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, nor that the lockout had ended. Baseball, alas, remains on hold, and pitchers and catchers won’t report to spring training next week as scheduled.

Manfred expressed optimism that the two sides would reach an agreement in time to start the regular season as scheduled March 31. For that to happen, of course, would require negotiations to pick up considerable steam compared to the sluggish pace so far.

MLB and the MLBPA are set to meet on Saturday, when the league is expected to offer a new proposal to the players. It’s safe to say a lot is riding on that meeting. The players and owners reportedly remain far apart on several core economic issues, so there’ll need to be a significant breakthrough in negotiations very soon in order to have time for a truncated spring training and an on-time season start. It’s not impossible. But the wheels would need to be set in motion almost immediately, and major progress would need to be made on Saturday.

Manfred did announce a few changes to the sport that both sides have already agreed to in the meantime. Chief among them, as expected, is that the league will institute the designated hitter rule in the National League, forever putting an end to the woeful sight of pitchers trying to hit. It won’t be missed.

Manfred also announced that the two sides have agreed to implement a draft lottery. The exact details on how it will work aren’t clear, and perhaps haven’t been agreed to yet, but it means that the team with the league’s worst record won’t necessarily be awarded the first overall pick in the next year’s draft. That’s of immediate relevance to the Orioles, who — you guessed it — had the league’s worst record last year and are set to be awarded the first overall pick in this year’s draft.

If the draft lottery were to go into effect immediately, the O’s might see that #1 pick snatched away from them, which would be a bummer. You mean we had to watch all that terrible baseball in 2021 for nothing? It’s also possible, though, that the lottery wouldn’t go into effect until 2023, allowing the Orioles to keep their, um, hard-earned top pick. That seems to me like it’d be the fairer way to go, but I don’t make the rules.

We’ll have to wait for the new CBA to find out how the draft lottery — and everything else — shakes out. For baseball’s sake, hopefully we’re not waiting too much longer.

Links

Wondering how O’s configure camps in spring training (updated) - School of Roch
Lockout or no lockout, the beat writers’ brains are hard-wired to be in spring training mode right now. Roch Kubatko wonders how the O’s will lay out their Sarasota camp with 40 prominent players set to be missing.

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
I like the idea of one questioner, who thinks the O’s should let their minor leaguers hold intrasquad games in front of paying customers to make up for any canceled Grapefruit League games. Rich Dubroff, though, doesn’t see it happening.

How important are these stats for pitching staffs? - Steve Melewski
Conventional wisdom has long held that fly ball pitchers don’t fare well at Camden Yards, but Melewski isn’t sure that’s the case. Me neither. It’s only Orioles pitchers who don’t fare well at Camden Yards.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on this day, all pitchers: first-round draft pick turned erratic lefty specialist Brian Matusz (35), righty reliever Matt Lindstrom (42), and two-game lefty Cesar Cabral (33).

Not a lot has happened on Feb. 11 for the Orioles, historically. But on this day two years ago, O’s pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, ready to gear up for a regular season they thought would begin in late March. As we now know, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, and the season wouldn’t begin until more than five months after that original spring training report date.

Still, at least spring training started on time. Must be nice.