There are now 53 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. That’s a Zack Britton number of days to wait until baseball is back. The jersey number is currently active courtesy of Mike Baumann, who seems like he will be sticking with it if he pitches a third straight season on the O’s. World Baseball Classic-participating pitchers report in just eight days. The rest of the pitchers and catchers will be showing up in ten.
The weekend’s Birdland Caravan across the state of Maryland is not the sort of thing where you’d expect there to be much in the way of news. The series of events are kind of a geographically distributed replacement to FanFest, where there are some spots where people can go and get hyped up for the season, others where those who pay can go and mingle a bit with certain players and prospects, some questions and answers, and the like.
As part of that getting hype, general manager Mike Elias addressed the Orioles media on Friday morning. Among his remarks, he said, “I believe that our rebuild is behind us,” and he added that “we’ve got an incredible chance now to be a very, very competitive team for years.”
This is quite a different tune from Elias than we’ve seen in past years and even just six months ago, scrupulously avoiding setting any kind of expectation or timetable for competitiveness for the big league club, at least until the whole “liftoff from here” thing came along after the trade deadline. His idea of that and ours turned out to not be the same. “The rebuild is behind us” is less ambiguous.
One might grumpily note it’s convenient to have proclaimed the rebuild to be behind us after the Orioles spent the offseason not signing any of the significant pitching free agents who might have reinforced the team heading into this apparent post-rebuild period. They just didn’t do that! So whatever comes next is still to come.
Maybe the wave of prospects will do a lot of the work themselves and no one will feel too bad that the Orioles didn’t do what they had to do to land a big fish like Carlos Rodón or any of the smaller but much bigger than Kyle Gibson fish. There could be midseason trades if the Orioles are competitive enough, with holes that can be plugged externally in exchange for surplus prospect stock. Or if they come up short again this year, the shuffle we thought was coming this offseason could hit.
It’s hard to guess. The one good thing that can be said is that for the first time in a number of years I’m actually looking forward to the start of the Orioles season and impatient for its arrival. This time a year ago, we couldn’t even be excited because there was all of the lockout stuff going on. Even once that got dealt with, Adley Rutschman got hurt immediately and the one exciting thing we had for Opening Day was quickly taken from us. Things did not get fun until June or July.
All the Orioles have to do relative to last year is suck less in April and May and they’ll be a playoff team. Easier said than done, of course. Were they merely 10-11 in April instead of 7-14, and 15-15 in May instead of 14-16, they’d have won 87 games and supplanted the Rays as the final wild card team. Then who knows what might have happened? In 53 days, we’ll start finding out for this year.
Around the blogO’sphere
Chasing a playoff spot means dealing with much higher expectations for the Orioles (Steve Melewski)
Among the things that could go along with the “rebuild is behind us,” Elias said, include that a pitching prospect might get promoted to help in the bullpen even if the team believes his long-term developmental potential is in the rotation.
From patience to pressure: Mike Elias, Brandon Hyde looking forward to Orioles’ ‘non-rebuild mode’ (The Baltimore Sun)
One more beat writer’s perspective on the latest Elias utterance that’s gotten hopes elevated.
Adley Rutschman will be MLB’s best catcher in 2023 (MLB.com)
Caravan assortment: Henderson on expectation, Elias on Rodriguez’s innings, Hyde on camp competition (Baltimore Baseball)
Offering no specifics about plans for Rodriguez, Elias said, “Now we’re in a mode where we want to get our best pitchers out there pitching as much as possible so we can win as many games as we can.” I hope he can make at least 25 starts.
Notes on Mountcastle, Hall, Means, rotation, and more (School of Roch)
Elias has done a few media appearances this week, starting even before the caravan, in which he’s indicated that it looks like John Means won’t be back before July. That realization is probably part of what went into acquiring lefty Cole Irvin from the Athletics.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2014 reliever Ryan Webb, 2002 reliever Chris Brock, and 1996-98 second baseman and Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar. It is Alomar’s 55th birthday today.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: automobile engineer André Citroën (1878), actor Red Buttons (1919), baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron (1934), artist H.R. Giger (1940), actress Laura Linney (1964), footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (1985), and footballer Neymar (1992).
On this day in history...
In 1810, during the Peninsular War that saw a Napoleon-directed invasion of Spain, the occupying French laid siege to the port of Cádiz. The Spanish defenders held out for more than 2.5 years, through two failed relief efforts, until the French were finally forced to lift the siege and retreat after the summer 1812 Battle of Salamanca.
In 1869, a gold nugget weighing 97 kilograms was discovered in a mine in Australia. Dubbed the “Welcome Stranger,” it’s the largest alluvial gold nugget ever recorded. The men who discovered it were paid a bit more than 9,000 British pounds at the time. That much gold today would be worth over four million American dollars.
In 1919, four actors, including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, formed the United Artists studio. The name still exists today, although the studio has been owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer since 1981.
In 1958, a collision between two Air Force planes during a training flight led to a bomber crew jettisoning a hydrogen bomb not far off of Tybee Island, Georgia. The bomb did not detonate and has never been found.
In 1971, Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell landed on the moon. Shepard, who had become the first American to travel into space a decade earlier, holds the distinction of being the oldest person to walk on the moon. He was age 47 for his second and last space flight.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 5. Have a safe Sunday.