Today’s Special Value – Doug Fister

We don’t know what the great baseball minds are doing. We can only imagine the hushed conversations and complex statistical analyses and the fast-flying calls, texts and e-mails. But February is bearing down quickly and there remains a gaping hole in the Orioles starting rotation that personally, I don’t believe can be filled by in-house resources. I feel like I am watching QVC when they say, “there are only three left at today’s special value price so don’t hesitate.” It is time to place the order, and I’d like to suggest righty free-agent pitcher Doug Fister.

At only 31, he’s a seasoned pitcher with good-looking numbers that rival those of the most respected pitchers in the game (source: baseball-reference.com – every baseball stats geek’s favorite web site).  In 3 years with the Mariners he had a 3.81 ERA. In 3 years with the Tigers he had a 3.29 ERA. In 2 years with the Nationals he had a 3.10 ERA, but unfortunately dealt with a forearm tendon strain injury in 2015 causing him to go on the DL in May and June of that year.

Baseball Reference has projected him as having a 3.57 ERA in 2016.

In 2014, he ranked 4th in NL Pitching Leaders in Earned Run Average (2.41) only behind Adam Wainwright, Johnny Cueto and Clayton Kershaw.  Also in 2014, he finished 7th in NL Wins. Not long ago, in 2014, he ranked 8th in voting for the NL Cy Young award.

He earned $11 million with the Nationals last year. Who knows how much money (if any) the Orioles have left to spend, but like many others, I’d suggest that Doug Fister is worth a very serious look. I say grab him..before someone else does.

And Doug, I know that you are a California guy, but you have lived in the DC area for the past two years. Why would you want to give up weather…like this?

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Where’s my…mailbox?

Davis Makes The Deal

It is a bit disconcerting. Imagine that you are involved in a relationship with someone. You offer to make a serious commitment. They decline. Then a month later, realizing that no one else is interested in them, they suddenly want you back. I don’t know about you, but at that point, I’d say hit the road, Jack. But alas, this is not about love. This is about baseball.

Having just occurred Saturday, it is now ancient news that Chris Davis and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a seven-year, $161 million deal. This, of course, after Davis declined an earlier $150 million offer and left the Orioles and their fans hanging while he and his agent tested the free market. At that time, there was talk that Davis, who led all of MLB in 2015 in home runs, was seeking a contract in the $200 million range. Well, well, well, reality, as they say, bites.

While it was a frustrating waiting game for the Orioles fans and organization, there is ultimately nothing wrong with Chris Davis testing the market to find the highest bidder for his skills.  In fact, I think it is our responsibility to know our worth and seek the maximum compensation for our services. Who are we to ask or judge “how much is enough money” for one person? We did not hit 47 home runs last year. He did and that has value.

Some have called it greedy.  I call it smart (by Davis, not by the Orioles). Davis was not out bilking innocent investors or taking advantage of anyone. The Orioles owners and management must think that he is worth that investment (debatable, but we shall see).

$161 million. Not bad for a guy from Longview, Texas with a baseball bat. Good for you, Crush. We hope that it will also be good for the Orioles.

No Place Like Home – Lets Go Os!

Today is the day that I have been waiting for since last October 14th when they practically had to drag me through the exit gates of Camden Yards at the conclusion of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. On that day I walked deliberately, carefully stepping over all of the commemorative plaques where long-ago home runs had landed on the flag court. I remember looking up at the cloudy sky, then at the Bromo Seltzer tower that stared down ominously. We knew then that those Kansas City Royals would not let us come back here until now.

It is another cloudy, damp and foggy day here in Baltimore but today’s Home Opener represents a new beginning. The whole spring and summer is laid out before us. Dreams of hot afternoons and evenings tempt us. Everywhere I went today people were clad in black and orange giving a “Go Os” greeting even to complete strangers. Sure, the team played in Tampa the last few nights but this is different. They are here in their city, with their fans, in their ballpark. Home.

One Guarantee For Ubaldo Jiminez

Sean and Ubaldo Jiminez June 27 2014

He makes me think of the kids that are outside right now on dusty Dominican ballfields only dreaming of what he has done.  Last year at this time, right-hander Ubaldo Jiminez inked the largest contract ever given to a free agent pitcher in Orioles history; $50 million over four years. Just wrap your mind around those words for one moment. Fifty. Million. Dollars. Fifty million dollars to find himself finishing the 2014 season with his new team at 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA, a lost spot in the rotation, an ankle sprained by an errant flip flop and his name left off the American League Championship Series roster.  Oh how quickly, how inexplicably baseball dreams can turn to nightmares.

With three years left on that monster contract, the Orioles have to squeeze something out of Ubaldo in 2015. Can he return to his 2010 All-Star form where he threw the first no-hitter in the history of the Colorado Rockies and held the franchise record for 33 straight scoreless innings? Can the Orioles rekindle the magic to be found somewhere inside that quirky delivery?

I am as nervous and anxious watching Ubaldo on the mound as I am my own son. Wanting so desperately for them to succeed threatens to jinx them. So, I’ll guarantee just one thing about the upcoming season. Statistics show that they will both be wearing really cool sunglasses.

Orioles pitchers and catchers prepare to report to Spring Training in Sarasota next Thursday, February 19.


*My son and Ubaldo Jiminez – June 27, 2014 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD

Nick Markakis – Georgia On His Mind

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Ow. My hand hurts after pounding the counter upon learning the news that Orioles right-fielder Nick Markakis has signed a four-year deal to play for (sniff) the Atlanta Braves. No longer will his serene, stoic, darkly handsome gaze grace the television screens in homes and restaurants and bars on steamy Baltimore summer evenings. No longer will young boys pick #21 as their baseball number in homage to him.  No longer will he be our trusted lead-off man. No longer can we just take for granted that right field will be an oasis of perfection.  No longer will base runners hesitate in fear of that canon of an arm. Markakis. Someone you could just count on day after day, night after night to quietly and consistently deliver. How will it even be Opening Day in Baltimore without the right-side resident of 2110 Eutaw Street?

Once again, baseball teaches us about life.  That nothing lasts forever – nothing bad, and nothing good.


photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/3771395422/”>Keith Allison</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

A “Formal Feeling” – Orioles 2014 World-Series Dreams End in ALCS Game 4

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Emily Dickinson was most certainly not talking about baseball (as if she ever did) when she wrote the poem “After great pain, a formal feeling comes – (372).” But strangely, it conveys how I am feeling right now.

After a thrilling and unexpected season where they were champions of one of the wealthiest and most challenging divisions in all of professional baseball – the vaunted American League East – our Baltimore Orioles have officially been swept by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 American League Championship Series. 

The last out of the last inning has been recorded coldly in non-negotiable black and white. The final score (Kansas City 2, Baltimore 1, representing a four-game sweep) is in. World Series dreams – denied. We face the only true choice that we are ever given in grief – acceptance.

It feels oddly comfortable and peaceful. A sudden release from the tension of wondering, imagining, and wanting. It compels me to seek order – to tally the final score sheet, to take down the flag, to put away the shirts and the face paint and the beads.

We are now one step closer to Winter – and yet one step closer to next Spring.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/14841861463/”>Keith Allison</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

We Won’t Stop (I Hope)

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After a possibly fortunate rain-out in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Game 3 of the 2014 American League Championship Series will now be tonight starting at 8:07PM. My beloved Baltimore Orioles, vying for a spot in their first World Series since 1983 are currently down two games in this best-of-seven series against the red-hot Kansas City Royals.

“Red-hot” Kansas City Royals.  Now there is a phrase I never thought I’d write – until this year, of course. The Kansas City Royals haven’t played baseball in October since 1983 when, ironically, “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits was topping the Billboard Charts and iTunes was an unimaginable abstraction.

Out of respect for the game, I would ordinarily be more reverent in at least begrudgingly recognizing the Royals’ accomplishments this season. But the incessant chest-pumping and hair flipping of their first baseman Eric Hosmer, along with recent trash talk by Jarrod Dyson who, when asked by Kansas City Star writer Andy McCullough if he expects the series to return to Camden Yards for a sixth game said “No, sir, I don’t, and I don’t think [the Orioles] think that, either” has me less inclined.

I was among the disconsolate fans in black and orange trudging silently out of Camden Yards after Saturday’s loss in Game 2 wondering if this would be our last time through the gates until next Spring. The dark forecasts about Baltimore’s prospects in this series are everywhere. They speak of unfortunate but hopefully irrelevant historical realities.  They espouse the sad, sad fact that in the twenty-nine years since the League Championship Series was switched to a best-of-seven series that NO TEAM that had lost its first two games at home like Baltimore has this year has EVER come back to win the series. EVER!  So. Why play tonight?

Way back when the tulips were starting to come up and I was elbows-deep in Oxi-Clean scrubbing the red spring mud out of my son’s baseball pants, the experts were predicting that Baltimore would be a solid but probably not playoff-caliber team. They have endured and triumphed over a great deal of adversity this year including the loss of key players.  Beloved catcher Matt Wieters’ “minor elbow discomfort” turned into full-on season-ending and heart-wrenching Tommy John surgery.  Third baseman Manny Machado’s other knee blew out on August 11th also ending his season.  And what was more painful than the news that our super-slugging yet struggling Chris “Crush” Davis would have to take a 25-game suspension for violating MLB drug policy for the use of a medication to treat attention-deficit disorder. Without their superstars it was assumed that advancing would be a sure impossibility and Baltimore would go back to where a lot of people still seem to want them – in their off season living rooms watching on the flat-screen with the rest of us.

Despite the apprehension and ultimately unwarranted warnings in the spring and in the playoffs, the team still went on to win their first division title since 1997 blowing past the second-place New York Yankees (love writing that) and the last-place Boston Red Sox (love writing that even more) in a sweep against the vaunted glitterati of baseball – the Detroit Tigers.

I admit it. You would probably have to be some kind of clueless, sappy Pollyanna to say that things are looking great for Baltimore in this series right now, but looking at what this team has already done this year you have to have some hope.

On any given night or in any given game anything is possible.

Let’s see if they will make history tonight…

#We Won’t Stop (I hope)