There are now 60 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day, or two months and one day, if you prefer to look at it that way. The uniform number 60 was used by reliever Louis Head during the 2022 season. Though it hasn’t been made official yet, one might guess that the #60 jersey wearer from 2015-2020 might reclaim it since he’s returned for 2023: Mychal Givens.
After this past week’s acquisition of pitcher Cole Irvin from the Athletics, it seems like we can finally start to think that the Orioles of right now are going to be the Orioles of the regular season. How exactly certain roster competitions might shake out is not known, but there aren’t likely to be any more big changes. There’s only about two and a half weeks between now and the start of spring training anyway.
Initially, I wasn’t too thrilled with that Irvin trade. I think that the Orioles have plenty of guys whose probable future is at best the back end of a rotation already, so acquiring a guy with four years of team control remaining who’s got a below-average ERA for his career wasn’t very interesting.
However, I don’t think I gave enough credit to Irvin for being in the top 30 in innings pitched last season and in the top 15 in IP for the 2021 and 2022 seasons combined. That’s something which the Orioles do not have in spades. Kyle Gibson was 40th last season and 20th for the last two seasons combined. Everyone else is kind of a question mark about whether they can muster a full season’s worth of innings. Having two guys who seem to be pretty decent bets to start 30 games each is not exciting value, but it’s still value.
Irvin pitched at least five innings in 27 out of 30 starts last year, and at least six innings in 19 of 30 starts. Heading into September, he had a 3.35 ERA. That ballooned to 3.98 by season’s end because he was trashed by the Braves and the Mets in the season’s final month. If the Orioles can help Irvin avoid those sorts of disaster outings, either by giving him a better game plan or playing better defense than last year’s Athletics, he could look a lot better around here than he’s done for the currently-miserable Oakland team.
All the Orioles had to give up to get potentially four years of Irvin was their fifth-best infield prospect. And if you’re really excited for Coby Mayo, Darell Hernaiz might even have been the sixth-best infield prospect. They did not part with any of the near-MLB trio of Connor Norby, Joey Ortiz, and Jordan Westburg.
It still feels like one of those guys - or one of the non-Gunnar Henderson incumbents, Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías - is going to eventually be part of the next pitching trade, but I don’t think we’ll see that before the end of this season unless maybe the Orioles are in a place in July where adding another pitcher makes sense. I hope that everyone is healthy and effective enough that they don’t need to do any such trade, but that’s absolutely not guaranteed.
Around the blogO’sphere
Cole Irvin addition another step to better overall pitch efficiency for the Orioles (Steve Melewski)
MASN Steve notes that the Orioles went from worst-in-MLB pitches per inning in 2021 to eighth-fewest in 2022, and observes that the addition of Cole Irvin seems to be a further step towards guys who can gets outs without throwing a ton of pitches.
O’s atop rankings with No. 1 prospect, 8 in top 100 (Orioles.com)
When this wave of top prospects turns into the Orioles being yearly playoff contenders, that should be a lot of fun. Part of me will be at least a little nervous until this actually happens, though last year certainly seemed to be a step in the right direction even when the only big prospect additions were 4.5 months of Adley and one month of Gunnar.
Failing to honor his ‘open books’ promise fits a pattern for John Angelos (The Athletic)
As ‘next week’ ends, Orioles CEO John Angelos whiffs on chance to be ‘very transparent’ (The Baltimore Sun)
Beat writers who were on the receiving end of the obviously-empty promise to be allowed to look at Orioles financial information are lining up to take their whacks at John Angelos for making the empty promise. All Angelos had to do was be prepared to gently deflect baseball business questions and he wouldn’t have gotten into this hot water, but for whatever reason he was unable to get himself to be prepared for that.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today in 1994, the Orioles signed future Hall of Fame reliever Lee Smith to a one-year contract. Smith had 33 saves by the time the season ended early due to the strike. The Orioles being at 63-49 when things shut down is one of the underrated “what if?” seasons in franchise history.
There are a pair of former Orioles with birthdays today. They are: 2013 two-game pitcher Jair Jurrjens, and 1985-87 pitcher John Habyan.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: revolutionary pamphlet writer Thomas Paine (1737), 25th president William McKinley (1843), playwright Anton Chekhov (1860), comedian W.C. Fields (1880), actor Tom Selleck (1945), entertainment magnate Oprah Winfrey (1954), and singer-songwriter Adam Lambert (1982).
On this day in history...
In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” was published for the first time in New York’s The Evening Mirror.
In 1861, the state of Kansas was admitted to the Union, becoming the 34th of the United States.
In 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s first group of honorees were announced. The very first class of inductees - who didn’t actually get formally inducted for three years - consisted of: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on January 29. Have a safe Sunday.