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Thursday Bird Droppings: The Orioles have their new pitching coach

The former Braves bullpen coach is joining the Orioles staff. Have I heard this one before?

MLB: SEP 21 Orioles at Guardians
Brandon Hyde’s staff will have a new pitching coach next year.
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 119 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day 2024.

If you are one of the people who is on the “Orioles should trade for Dylan Cease” train - or even if you aren’t - you may be interested to know that the rumor mill suggests things could be coming to a head soon. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported yesterday that talks have “intensified” within the last few days and that there are people who believe that a deal could come together before next week’s winter meetings.

Cease has started 32 or 33 games in each of the past three seasons. In 2022, he was great, finishing with a 2.20 ERA that would have won him the Cy Young in any year where he didn’t have to compete against Justin Verlander’s 1.75 ERA. That ERA inflated a lot for 2023 as Cease finished with a 4.58, which when adjusted for park and league came out to a 97 ERA+ - a below league-average ERA.

Still, since Cease made all of his starts that was a 2.4 bWAR. As his FIP was even better than this at 3.72, Cease had a much better 3.7 fWAR. He had what appears to be some bad batted ball luck, coming in at a .330 BABIP allowed. The White Sox graded poorly in Statcast defense metrics, which may have been part of Cease’s problem. The Orioles defense was just as bad in Outs Above Average, but the bulk of the O’s problem was Adam Frazier grading out as one of the worst defenders in baseball. He’s gone.

As for Cease, he turns 28 next month and has two more years of salary arbitration before becoming a free agent. He walks a lot of guys and has too many wild pitches, but he gets enough strikeouts to make up for this and the righty has controlled the long ball in his career. He’s expected to make about $9 million next year, and a good 2024 could kick him up to $15 million or more for 2025. What would you trade to get him?

The Orioles took care of one of their non-player-related needs for the offseason yesterday as MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported that the team has hired its next pitching coach:

As we know from past experience with the Orioles in the 21st century, it’s not so easy as just hiring a Braves coach and suddenly having a good pitching staff. The Braves sure did have a good pitching staff this past season though, so hopefully French is ready to make the leap from whatever his bullpen coach duties were for the past three seasons to getting the most out of O’s pitchers next year.

In other MLB coaching news, former Oriole and recent Padres bench coach Ryan Flaherty is changing teams. Flaherty, who did not get the Padres managerial job, is heading to Chicago to join the Cubs staff being assembled by their new hire, Craig Counsell.

Félix Bautista was named the AL Reliever of the Year last night. It was apparently a unanimous choice.

Around the blogO’sphere

More chatter on Orioles’ pitching plans in free agency (School of Roch)
Roch likens reports of the Orioles having been interested in Aaron Nola to his own post-college interest in a Ferrari and he bought a Chevy Cavalier.

Here’s how the Orioles can use the winter meetings to supplement roster (Orioles.com)
If you can believe this, the choices boil down to signing a free agent pitcher or trading for someone.

As free agent pitchers start signing, the Orioles’ challenge this winter grows clearer (The Baltimore Banner)
The challenge is they’re going to have to actually spend money! Or else trade prospects.

The Orioles will soon reach at least $1.3 billion in public benefits since 1988. They’re expected to ask for more. (The Baltimore Sun)
That averages out to about $37 million per year, which is both a lot and also not a lot, in the grand scheme.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2000, hearts were broken across Birdland as Mike Mussina signed a contract with the Yankees worth $88.5 million over six years. Elsewhere in the league, another future HOF player, Ichiro Suzuki, signed a contract with the Mariners. Ichiro’s first MLB deal netted him $14 million over three years. Imagine that! Ichiro won both Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first season.

There are a pair of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2018-22 outfielder DJ Stewart, and 2000 infielder Mark Lewis.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: A Modest Proposal author Jonathan Swift (1667), novelist Mark Twain (1835), TV host Dick Clark (1929), director Ridley Scott (1937), actor Mandy Patinkin (1952), two-sport All-Star Bo Jackson (1962), and model Chrissy Teigen (1985).

On this day in history...

In 1707, a British attempt to capture the settlement of Pensacola in modern day Florida was abandoned after a three-day siege, keeping the area in Spanish hands.

In 1803, the Louisiana Territory was formally transferred from Spain to France, though as we know from history France didn’t keep it for long.

In 1939, the Soviet Union invaded and bombed Finland, launching the Winter War. The outgunned Finns acquitted themselves well through the winter months and inflicted substantially more casualties on the Russians, but were eventually forced into a peace that saw them cede close to 10% of their territory to the Soviet Union.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on November 30. Have a safe Thursday.