Tag: Baltimore Orioles

MLB 2015 AL East Preview

The AL East is as intriguing a division as there is in baseball. The two big teams in the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees both have massive needs. The Red Sox pitching staff is barely middle of the road, and the catcher who was expected to make each of them better, Christian Vazquez, is out for the year with TJ surgery. Meanwhile the Yankees have yet another old/injury prone lineup and the distraction that is Alex Rodriguez. Their pitching staff may be improved, but the depth in the middle infield, pitching staff, and behind the plate leave a lot to be desired. The Tampa Bay Rays trail only the Oakland Athletics in roster turnover it seems this off-season, but have an interesting squad. They open the season with several injury concerns, but if the young pitching staff can stay healthy and pitch up to their potential, it could be the best staff in the East by far. The Baltimore Orioles are still waiting on Matt Wieters to come all the way back from TJ and JJ Hardy will enter the year on the DL. Chris Davis has one game left on his suspension, but he has a therapeutic exemption to go back on Adderall so time will tell if he returns to his 2013 form. The Toronto Blue Jay will roll out six rookies with major roles to start the season. All have tremendous upside (except maybe Devon Travis who just has solid upside) but there is obviously plenty of risk with such a young roster.

Projected Winner: The risk just might pay off for the Jays. They traded Brett Lawrie for Josh Donaldson this off-season, and signed the best catcher on the market In Russell Martin. Justin Smoak will look to resurrect his career in the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre, and there might not be a better trio in the middle of an order than Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Donaldson. If their pitching can hold up, there is a chance the Blue Jays not only win the division, but run away with it.

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps? Probably not, but there are some situations that I could see a team sneaking in. The division is rather weak as a whole, so if a team like Tampa Bay or Baltimore perform really well within the division, they could put up enough wins to sneak in as a Wild Card. The bottom of the division will likely be the Red Sox and Yankees, unless the Red Sox move some of their quality pitching prospects and outfield depth to improve both their rotation and bullpen. If they get a guy like Cole Hamels and a bullpen piece or two in July, it could be enough to catapult them up to Wild Card contention.

Manny Machado’s Bat Throw, An Arbiters Dream?

Manny Machado is one of the best young players in all of baseball, but his antics over the weekend were ridiculous. He managed to empty the benches twice by acting like a 12 year old, or his off-season workout buddy Alex Rodriguez.

It all started when Machado was running from second to third on a grounder to Josh Donaldson at third. Machado tried to avoid the tag, but he lost his balance when Donaldson apparently tagged Machado too hard. Machado fell to the ground, slammed his helmet, and immediately got into Donaldson’s face, clearing the benches.

Later in the series, Machado managed to “accidentally” hit catcher Derrick Norris with his bat on his backswing.

It was all topped off when Machado swung at a ball down by his ankles, losing his bat that appeared to be intended for the Oakland A’s third baseman, but three things went wrong there.

1) The third baseman was Alberto Callaspo, not Donaldson who Machado had the beef with

2) The bat was nowhere close to the third baseman, instead had a better chance of hitting the third base umpire than Callaspo.

3) He claims the bat slipped out of his hand as he tried to make contact.

Now, the third thing does not immediately jump out as strange, bats slip out of batters hands, it happens. But when the ball is down and in at the ankles, and the swing would only make contact if the ball was letter high on the outside corner, it is pretty clear he was not actually trying to make contact.

Then again, this could work out really well for the Baltimore Orioles. It is likely Machado will be handed a suspension for his actions over the weekend, and given Machado’s comments after the game, he will likely appeal the suspension and claim he was trying to make contact with the ball.

Machado is arbitration eligible following the 2016 season, and while the Orioles will probably try to sign him to a deal before he gets there, might this swing be in the team’s favor should they go to salary arbitration?

Couldn’t you just imagine the two parties going before an arbiter, Machado’s camp saying “Manny is one of the best young players in all of baseball, just look at his numbers” and the Orioles responding with, “Yes, his numbers are fantastic, however, he claims this swing was an attempt to make contact with the ball, clearly there is some sort of underlying neurological issue yet to be discovered. We will pay him the league minimum but ensure he has health care for life to take care of the problem if it manifests itself again in the future.”

Hey, arbitration is said to be brutal, and when it comes to money people can do some crazy things, so I encourage the Orioles to keep this GIF in their back pocket.