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Thursday Bird Droppings: New Orioles owner Rubenstein sets goal of World Series trophy

In a statement officially confirming the coming sale, David Rubenstein said everything you’d want him to say

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Key Speakers At The Superreturn Conference
David Rubenstein listening for the applause after saying he wants the Orioles to win a World Series. (He really said that. I only made up that explanation for this photo.)

Hello, friends.

There are now 56 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. In terms of uniform numbers, that’s Darren O’Day days to go until real baseball is back. That’s a pretty good one. If you can believe it, three people have used 56 since O’Day was dealt: Hunter Harvey, Kyle Bradish (2022 only), and Mark Kolozsvary. Now that it is February, we are down to just 13 days until pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota and spring training begins.

Yesterday brought the first official confirmation of Tuesday night’s reports about the pending sale of the Orioles to an ownership group led by Baltimore-born billionaire David Rubenstein. The Orioles issued a statement that he will become the control person for the team. The statement also said that the Angelos family will “continue as a major investor,” and that John Angelos will remain as a senior adviser.

I take this as face-saving stuff for Angelos and expect that the second phase of a sale of the Angelos stake will take place as reported after Peter Angelos passes away in the future, then we won’t hear from Angelos any more. Or maybe that’s just, as people younger and hipper than me are now fond of saying, copium.

I am encouraged with the confirmation that Rubenstein will become the control person as soon as the sale is approved by MLB. I am also encouraged that the statement said, “Our collective goal will be to bring a World Series Trophy back to the City of Baltimore.” Hell yeah, man. That’s the good stuff.

Rubenstein’s statement doesn’t point to the Angelos family and John Angelos in particular getting shoved out the door immediately, in any case. The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Barker tweeted yesterday that the next step is going to be MLB doing due diligence on the potential new ownership group. That will not be completed in time for approval at next week’s owners meetings, he said. So, the official transfer of the “control person” title is not something with a timetable yet. It is clear where things are going, though.

This is only a disappointment for anyone who was already thinking that new owners would mean a substantial increase to the budgeted payroll for 2024, with the possibility of jumping in and signing one of the remaining big-dollar free agent starting pitchers. I don’t think that was ever going to happen even if the sale did move along next week. There is going to be at least a little limbo period during which nothing will change. The more grounded you have been in reality, the easier it will be to wait out that limbo period.

In the meantime, other things to do with the coming baseball season are moving on. The prospect-industrial complex continues to churn out its preseason top prospect lists. Yesterday, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel joined the party, dropping a top 100 that includes seven Orioles minor leaguers.

The mainstream lists up to this point have had six Orioles prospects, so this is the first one with seven. Along with Jackson Holliday continuing as a unanimous #1 prospect, Coby Mayo and Samuel Basallo are both in the top 30 of this list and Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser are in the top 50. That matches how those prospects have lined up on the other lists so far.

McDaniel also slipped two more Orioles into the bottom of his list, with infield prospect Joey Ortiz at #91 and last year’s first round pick Enrique Bradfield Jr. coming in at #94. These two guys have now been named on two of the four of what I’d call the major lists, along with Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB Pipeline. The Athletic’s Keith Law will drop his list next week, and presumably FanGraphs will have a list out soon also. Once all those lists are out, we can get an idea of what the consensus is on the assorted prospects.

So far, everybody thinks the Orioles are still pretty well set up to get contributions from the farm in the near future, with five guys on the top 51 on every list and at least one guy in the lower half of the list. That’s encouraging! The O’s are going to need that to continue to be good. One aspect of this that I’ll be keeping my eye on is what players who are on the farm right now can have their prospect stock increase in a big way this year, like happened with Basallo and Mayo over 2023.

Around the blogO’sphere

Orioles sale left state leaders in the dark, capping year of difficult negotiations (The Baltimore Banner)
It may be safe to say that John Angelos has burned some bridges with state and local government with his antics when he knew full well that he was on his way out the door. Ultimately, I don’t think this point substantively altered the final lease agreement, but nobody likes being lied to.

The Orioles were built to fit John Angelos’ miserly budget. A sale should change everything. (The Baltimore Banner)
Count Jon Meoli among those who think that the new ownership group should bring a change to the payroll situation.

Introducing each member of the new Orioles ownership group (The Baltimore Banner)
The Banner is seriously killing it with coverage of the sale. There are nine partners in the new ownership group that were named in the team’s press release. Here, you can learn a bit more about the ones who aren’t named Cal Ripken Jr. I think we know everything about him already.

An inside look at Jackson Holliday’s offseason workout facility (MLB Pipeline)
Basically since the day that he was drafted, every article I’ve read about Jackson Holliday just makes me more excited about him.

Tate ‘looks unbelievable,’ ready for ‘24 after missing ‘23 (Orioles.com)
Dillon Tate comeback stories have been all over the place through January. I hope that he’s not going to be the guy with the most pointless spring training ink spilled over him this year.

New ownership offers fresh hope for the Orioles (The Athletic)
Buy the Orioles? There couldn’t be a better time (ESPN)
Two guys who’ve had some animus towards Peter Angelos for decades are taking a little bit of a victory lap with the news of the sale.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2012 two-game first baseman Joe Mahoney, 1998 outfielder Rich Becker, and 1964-76 outfielder and eight-time Gold Glove winner Paul Blair. Blair passed away in 2013 at age 69.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Golden Age director John Ford (1894), writer Langston Hughes (1902), writer Muriel Spark (1918), musician Rick James (1948), musician Jason Isbell (1979), and musician/actor Harry Styles (1994).

On this day in history...

In 1865, President Lincoln put his signature on the Thirteenth Amendment, which had just passed Congress with the necessary two-thirds majority earlier in the day. The amendment, which outlawed slavery, was then submitted to the states for ratification.

In 1964, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles reached #1 on the charts in America, the first of their songs to do so.

In 2003, as the STS-107 mission returned to Earth, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry into the atmosphere. All seven astronauts were killed.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 1. Have a safe Thursday.