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Thursday Bird Droppings: Spring training is now less than three weeks away

Pitchers and catchers report in 20 more days. Will a different Oriole be added to the mix by then?

Oriole Park at Camden Yards Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 63 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. In uniform number terms, we have arrived at Kevin Gregg days to go until real baseball returns. Andy MacPhail really wasn’t good at signing free agent relievers. Just 20 days remain until pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota. That’s a much more fun former Oriole number.

You already know that nothing has changed with the Orioles rotation since the last season ended. It is starting to look like a trade for a top-end starting pitcher is not happening, and it has long seemed like if there was a signing instead, that this would be a third-tier starting pitcher. Even that crowd of pitchers is dwindling, with the Dodgers grabbing oft-injured James Paxton a few days ago.

The list of free agent starting pitchers is still long. The list of ones I’d want the Orioles to sign is not so long. If the Dodgers signing Paxton means that they’re not bringing back Clayton Kershaw, that would be a fun addition - but from my limited awareness he is likely to retire if not signed by the Dodgers or a Texas team, which is where he’s from. So I’m not getting my hopes up about that one, even though it would be cool.

Otherwise, what, am I supposed to be excited by the idea of Michael Lorenzen? Come on. I guess if I had no choice but to do it, then it would be fun to talk about an Orioles rotation that had multiple pitchers in it who have thrown a no-hitter in the 2020s. Lorenzen had one last year, and of course John Means joined that club in 2021.

The “nothing has happened yet” status can change at any time if another team accepts the right offer, or if the Orioles change their minds and meet another team’s price that they’ve been avoiding up until now. It’s a running joke in my household that Mike Elias tries to make significant moves when I am otherwise occupied in some way.

Today, I’ll be gone for most of the day, and tomorrow I’m going to be out for a while too. Maybe this will be what it takes to make something happen! But I don’t actually believe that. It seems like teams are demanding too much, Elias isn’t that interested, and they’ll take their chances with what’s already here. On the other hand, he has surprised me before, including one year ago tomorrow when he acquired Cole Irvin, so he could certainly surprise me again.

Around the blogO’sphere

Orioles Top 30 prospects for 2024 (Baseball America)
This one is for subscribers only, sorry! But they’ve got Jackson Holliday all the way down to Frederick Bencosme. One higher-ranked guy than the amount of time you’ve probably spent thinking about him is Luis de Leon at #16. This lefty pitcher struck out 67 batters in 53.2 innings between rookie level and Delmarva in his age 20 season last year. The downside: 30 walks.

Holliday leads 2024 top SS prospect list (MLB Pipeline)
When Holliday is already the #1 overall prospect in the game by some outlets, it’s not a surprise to see he’s also the top shortstop prospect at another outlet. Still cool, though!

Ryan Mountcastle’s late-season plate discipline produced impressive results (Steve Melewski)
I trust, though it is possibly misplaced, that we all know better than to think Mountcastle’s last 45 game stretch of 2023 cited here is going to be the new normal for him.

Could Samuel Basallo become the Orioles’ fourth consecutive No. 1 prospect? (The Baltimore Banner)
Almost certainly not, but I appreciate that there’s a certain brand of Orioles homer, particularly prospect-oriented Orioles homers, who can’t help but ask the question.

With Orioles backing, bill to ban smokeless tobacco in city stadiums advances (The Baltimore Sun)
Cigarettes have already been banned, and the Orioles are supporting a bill that will expand that to other tobacco products. Good riddance.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2005, free agent Carlos Delgado agreed to a four-year contract with the Marlins. I mention this only because Baseball Reference notes that the Orioles were one of three other teams involved in the bidding war, a fact that was not in my awareness. Delgado dropped a .985 OPS that season.

Imagine if the O’s had gotten him to add a veteran slugger to the lineup and then that meant they didn’t feel the need to acquire Sammy Sosa a week later. The ‘05 team would have probably still disappointed, but maybe less, or at least in a different way.

There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 1992/1998 four-game pitcher Richie Lewis, 1989 infielder Francisco Meléndez, and 1963-68 pitcher Wally Bunker. Today is Bunker’s 79th birthday, so an extra happy birthday to him.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736), cleaning product magnage William Colgate (1783), author Virginia Woolf (1882), hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios (1962), President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (1978), and musician Alicia Keys (1981).

On this day in history...

In 1533, in a secret ceremony, England’s Henry VIII married his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Three years later, he had her beheaded.

In 1858, a wedding between Queen Victoria of England’s daughter, who was also named Victoria, and future German Emperor Frederick III, featured Felix Mendelssohn’s The Wedding March. You might have heard the tune.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a live press conference broadcast on television, the first time a president had ever done this.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on January 25. Have a safe Thursday.