Today is one of the fortunate days of the two-and-a-half month ownership lockout of MLB players, because we’ve actually got a tiny bit of Orioles news to discuss. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the team has a minor league contract agreed with 26-year-old Shed Long, who’s spent parts of the last three seasons on the Mariners, where he’s posted a .660 OPS.
Long, who’s split time between second base and outfield, has a career minor league OPS of .791, so it’s not hard to see why the Orioles might want him around as a backup option for some infield depth. Long has had two surgeries on his right leg in the last two seasons, most recently in October. MASN’s Roch Kubatko wrote that Long is likely to begin the season on the injured list.
Ordinarily, it’s not worth getting too excited about a minor league contract because if the player was sure to be a big deal, they wouldn’t be getting one of those contracts. A lot of the time, they end up not mattering at all. Last year, there was some excitement that Felix Hernandez was in Orioles spring training, to see if he had anything left in the tank. Hernandez did not. Long probably won’t matter much either, but who knows, maybe he will.
If you’re in the mood for optimism, there’s also the possibility that that today could produce some forward movement towards an end to the lockout. The league and players are expected to have a meeting where the players will respond to the most recent proposal from the owners. None of the previous sessions have led to a breakthrough, but now that we’re officially missing spring training time and the “need a deal by today or the season will be delayed” date is approaching, perhaps that will inspire a compromise.
In the meantime, the only definite thing to look forward to is the start of minor league spring training in eleven days. This will be even less visible than the major league games would be. They play on back fields. There will not be even the usual small handful of MASN-televised games, or any radio attention. It will, at least, be a sign that some kind of baseball is on the way back, lockout or not, for everyone who’s not on the 40-man roster.
Around the blogO’sphere
Five near-ready Orioles prospects to watch in 2022 (Press Box)
Even if you take out Adley Rutschman, there are still going to be plenty of exciting guys starting out the season at Norfolk and Bowie.
O’s new Double-A skipper on winning, chemistry, player development, and more (Steve Melewski)
Double-A manager Kyle Moore is moving up from High-A Aberdeen for this season. Among other things, he described how the goal on the farm is “creating an elite learning environment, so the player understands what process it’s going to take to win when they get to Camden.”
Mercado’s eager to make move from classroom to Orioles minor league manager (Baltimore Baseball)
The new High-A manager is joining the organization after having been a high school’s dean of students and baseball coach. He is definitely not the typical hire. I hope he brings a useful perspective into the organization.
Baseball moves Marrow back to Maryland as minors coach (School of Roch)
If there was no lockout, we’d be talking about pitchers throwing bullpens today. Since there is a lockout, we’re talking about a guy who went to Calvert Hall becoming the fundamentals coach in the Florida Complex League.
Oriole of the Day: Cionel Pérez gives Baltimore another hard-throwing lefty struggling with command (The Baltimore Sun)
Nathan Ruiz’s ongoing feature takes a look at a November waiver claim with a 6.04 ERA and 6.2 BB/9 over 50.2 career MLB innings. I don’t feel a lot of excitement.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today in 2003, pitching prospect Steve Bechler, 23, passed away after collapsing during the previous day’s workout. The cause of death was heat stroke, though a toxicology report released by the medical examiner added, “...the toxicity of ephedra played a significant role in Mr. Bechler’s death.” Taken for weight loss, the drug has since been banned by MLB and its sale is regulated by the federal government to try to curb meth production.
There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2007 reliever Scott Williamson, 1985-87 infielder Alan Wiggins, 1987 outfielder Mike Hart, and 1964 outfielder Willie Kirkland. Today is Kirkland’s 88th birthday, so an extra happy birthday to him.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you as well! Your birthday buddies for today include: Tang dynasty empress Wu Zetian (624), football legend Jim Brown (1936), actor Lou Diamond Phillips (1962), basketball legend Michael Jordan (1963), Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong (1972), and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (1991).
On this day in history...
In 1801, the presidential election of 1800 was finally resolved after an Electoral College tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr sent the election to the House of Representatives. On the 36th ballot, Jefferson finally broke the tie and went on to become the third president, with Burr his vice president under the rules of the time. However, if not for the Three-Fifths Compromise boosting the influence of slave states, the result of the election would have been a second term for incumbent president John Adams.
In 1867, the Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea saw the first ship pass through it, though it was not officially inaugurated for two more years.
In 1972, sales of the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed the previously best-selling automobile, the Model T. It remains the most-manufactured single-platform vehicle of all time, though it’s been eclipsed in total sales by 26 years of Toyota Corollas.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 17. Have a safe Thursday.