Dan Duquette tells Orioles fans that reaching .500 is just the starting point. At his first FanFest, the Orioles' executive vice president continues to set the bar high, but not necessarily at signing Prince Fielder.
His contract set to expire at the end of October, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is expected to step down from his position after Wednesday's season finale, perhaps as soon as Thursday.
With a win against Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night, the Orioles will finish with a winning record in September for a second consecutive season. They are 14-13 entering the season finale. A season ago, the Orioles went 34-23 after Buck Showalter became manager, including a 17-13 record after August 31. That strong finish had the fan base fired up this spring, and many vocal fans predicted big things -- you know, a winning record -- after the Orioles acquired Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds.
The Orioles, who can officially avoid the 100-loss plateau with one win in Monday's doubleheader against the Red Sox, haven¿t made a big splash in free agency in recent years -- unless you count overpaying for Zombie Vladimir Guerrero or inking the immortal Garrett Atkins -- but Jon Heyman says this winter could be different.
Entering Monday night's series opener against the Twins, the Orioles are a season-high 30 games below .500. Buck Showalter's squad has to go 16-22 from here on out to avoid hitting the century mark in the loss column. Thirty. That number has a lot of significance today. Four years ago, on August 22, 2007, the same day the Orioles announced that manager Dave Trembley would return for the 2008 season, the Orioles endured one of the lowest points in franchise history when the Rangers scored 30 runs on them at Camden Yards.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn't a fan of the new kickoff rule that has led to an increase in touchbacks around the NFL. ... Marshal Yanda has missed the two practices following the preseason opener with back spasms, so the Ravens shuffled Oniel Cousins to Yanda's spot at right guard. ... The Ravens hope Sergio Kindle's debut on Thursday night was a sign of things to come. ... Jo-Jo Reyes pitched six surprisingly strong innings Sunday and the Orioles strung together 14 hits to defeat the Tigers, 8-5, at Camden Yards. ... Orioles starter Jake Arrieta said he was a little relieved when he found out his elbow surgery went well. ... Joe Jordan believes the Orioles will sign top pick Dylan Bundy before Monday night's midnight deadline.
Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds has started the past three games at first base, something some fans called for in the season's first half when the third baseman was throwing balls away like he was a young Kyle Boller. Reynolds leads the American League with 21 errors, all of them coming at the hot corner, but he has been solid there since the All-Star break.
In recent weeks, the man I call the most interesting manager in the world has looked like the most irritated manager in the world as he scowls away in the Orioles dugout. Then again, I would be pretty ticked off, too, if the Yankees put up double digits in the first inning against my team's latest fading pitching prospect.
It was a wild, wacky weekend in the world of American pro sports with NFL free agency hitting full swing on Friday and Major League Baseball¿s annual non-waiver trade deadline passing on Sunday afternoon. Things were relatively quiet in Baltimore, though.
The Ravens signed Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach but saw tight end Todd Heap sign a two-year deal with the Cardinals. ... A few Ravens players are sidelined at the start of training camp. ... Kelly Gregg said there are no hard feelings in parting ways with the Ravens. ... The Orioles lost to the Yankees, 4-2, on Sunday. ... After making two deals Saturday, the Orioles held on to the rest of their potential chips as Sunday's annual non-waiver trade deadline passed.
Remember before the baseball season when I chatted with ESPN's Keith Law about the Orioles, and he fired up the fan base by saying that the Orioles were "clearly the worst team" in the AL East? Well, right now, it looks like Law got that one right. But to his credit, he made a point not to rub salt in the wound when he appeared on 105.7 The Fan with Ken Weinman and Vinny Cerrato to discuss the Orioles on Wednesday.
The Orioles are plummeting out of contention, having lost four in a row, nine of their past 10 games and 18 of their past 24. They are 15 games back in the AL East -- can you believe that it's up to 15 now? -- and most of their recent losses haven't been close as they lost three of their past four games by a touchdown.
Oh, the mediocre have fallen. The Orioles, who a month ago were staying somewhat relevant and hanging around in the AL East, now have the second-worst record in the American League and are a dozen games behind the Red Sox in the wild-card standings.
For much of this season, the Orioles met reasonable expectations by treading water around the .500 mark and sometimes playing very good baseball against some of the league's best teams. But they have been slowly sinking in the standings in June, and they reached a new low Thursday night against the Cardinals.
The Orioles homered three times in Sunday's 7-5 win over the Reds and finished with nine in the three-game series. ... Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Brian Matusz needs to figure out how to pitch with the stuff he's got because his velocity might not come back this year. ... Jake Arrieta said he threw about 40 pitches in a bullpen session and felt good, but he still expects to skip his Wednesday start. ... After hitting two home runs over the weekend, Derrek Lee is hoping he has finally found the right rhythm with his swing. ... Football readiness was a big factor in the Ravens' decision to not hold training camp at McDaniel College this summer.
Baltimore is blessed with a bunch of talented sports bloggers who bring their unique perspective to the conversation. I often link up to these local writers in my morning Coffee Companion posts, but instead of just exchanging anti-social links with them, I have decided to be slightly less anti-social by exchanging emails with them in a somewhat regular feature called Blogger on Blogger.