Orioles trade Machado to Dodgers, receive five prospects in return

On Wednesday night the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers officially announced the long-awaited trade that will send All-Star shortstop Manny Machado to  L.A. in exchange for five minor league players.

The five players the Orioles received are Yusniel DiazRylan BannonDean KremerZach Pop and Breyvic Valera. Diaz highlights the group as one of the Dodgers top five prospects but Bannon and Kremer can also be found in the MLB.com top-30 rankings for the Dodgers.

The 21-year-old Diaz entered the Dodgers system in 2014 after becoming a standout in Cuba’s top league and has since worked his way to Double-A Tulsa where he was hitting .314 with 30 RBI’s in 59 games. Diaz still has room to grow on defense but can play both center and right field. Scouts are still waiting for his power to develop but he currently makes up for that with above-average speed.

Bannon is in the middle of his first full season after being drafted in 2017. At Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old is hitting .296 with 20 home runs in 89 games. Bannon has split time between third and second base this year but impresses at both thanks to a strong arm and good range. His bat has been consistent so far but it will have to get better before he continues to rise through the minor league ranks.

Kremer rounds out the trio of top-30 MLB.com prospects and also marks one of two pitchers in the deal. The Orioles put a heavy emphasis on acquiring pitching prospects in exchange for Machado since they have been unloading a handful of them away over the past few years. Kremer has spent most of his 2018 season in Rancho Cucamonga as well.

The 22-year-old right-hander has started 17 games so far in 2018 and holds a modest 5-3 record with a 3.03 ERA. Of his four pitches, Kremer uses his fastball the most. The heater clocks in between 91-94 mph but he likes to mix things up with a big-breaking curveball. He is also in the process of developing his slider and change up as he stays in the starting role.

Pop is the other pitcher included in the deal. He has split his 2018 campaign between Rancho Cucamonga and Great Lakes (the Dodgers other single-A affiliate). Pop has not started any games but holds a 1.04 ERA with 47 strikeouts in a little over 43 innings of relief.

The fifth player, Valera, is the only one in the group to reach the major league level so far. Valera made his MLB debut in 2017 at the age of 25 and has since played in 25 games for the Dodgers. Despite only batting .154 at the major league level, Valera has been successful with Triple-A Oklahoma City. The 26-year-old utility player is hitting .284 with 25 RBI’s in 56 starts at Triple-A this year. Valera is predominantly used as an infielder but has also spent some brief time in the outfield in both the minors and majors.

For days the baseball world seemed to revolve around Machado and where he would be ending up. There were reports this past weekend that he could find himself in Philadelphia when the season resumes. But, the Dodgers re-entered the mix on Tuesday as Machado was preparing to suit up in an Orioles jersey one last time for the All-Star game. The 26-year-old will now finish his 2018 season on the west coast in what the Dodgers hope to be their sixth straight trip to the postseason.

Los Angeles became the early favorite to land Machado earlier this season when they lost their starting shortstop, Corey Seager, to a season-ending injury. While Machado’s contract does expire after this season, he remains a valuable asset to any team trying to make a playoff run.

In seven seasons with Baltimore, Machado hit .283 with 162 home runs and 471 RBI. His hot start to 2018 put him the MVP conversation early on and since then he has remained consistent at the plate. He is on pace to have a career year in multiple stat categories but will now have to keep that up while facing some National League pitching. Machado is a .281 career hitter with 17 home runs and 67 RBI’s in over 100 interleague games.

Image Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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Podcast Episode 8: Orioles mid-season awards & Ravens defensive preview

Welcome to Episode 8 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and editor Nolan McGraw.

As usual the podcast opens with the weekly numbers segment (1:55). This week Jake and Nolan dive into the famous and not so famous number 8’s in Baltimore sports history. After this the duo transitions into a brief recap of the Orioles recent wins over the Texas Rangers as well as some more developments in the Manny Machado trade news (19:45). Be sure to check out Jake’s article highlighting the top 10 moments of Manny Machado’s career in Baltimore.

Last week on the podcast the Ravens offense was examined in depth so this week Nolan and Jake put the defense under the microscope and give their thoughts as the season approaches (50:00). The podcast concludes with a story from Jake about his recent vacation but the conversation quickly dissolves into a rant about the frustrations of driving (1:16:45).

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Please leave us a review, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

Orioles pick up pair of comeback wins over visiting Yankees

Game 1 (5-4 BAL): The Orioles kicked off their four-game series against the Yankees with a doubleheader. To the surprise of many, the O’s got the best of their American League East rival and snapped six-game losing streak with a 5-4 win.

Jimmy Yacabonis was called upon to make his second start of the year after turning in a decent outing in his first career start a few weeks ago. The Yankees jumped on the rookie pitcher early and picked up three runs in the first three innings. Yacabonis settled in after this and worked his way through five innings.

Mark Trumbo helped inch the Birds back into the game with a two-run blast in the fourth. It marked Trumbo’s 12th homer of the year and fourth this month. The Yankees got a run back in the sixth but the Orioles offense was not done yet. Trumbo led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Jonathan Schoop followed with a double, bringing Danny Valencia to the plate. CC Sabathia was approaching 100 pitches on the hill but remained in the game to face Valencia. This ended up being a somewhat questionable call as the right fielder sent a three-run shot to deep center, giving the O’s a 5-4 lead.

Mike Wright, Mychal Givens and Zach Britton closed out the last three innings with ease to secure the win. The victory marked the Orioles’ first in game one of a series since June 22 when they defeated the Braves in extra innings.

Game 2 (10-2 NYY): The Orioles could not keep their good fortunes going when game two rolled around. Yefry Ramirez got the start but failed to work at the fast pace he had displayed in his last two outings. Didi Gregorius put the Yankees on the board in the first inning with an RBI double. The lineup continued to threaten later in the inning by loading the bases but Ramirez escaped with a timely strikeout.

A two-run homer by Brett Gardner extended New York’s lead in the fourth. Ramirez’s pitch count was inflated but the rookie pitcher managed to finish off the inning. However, the Yankees finally forced Ramirez out of the game in the next inning after Greg Bird picked up an RBI single.

The score remained 4-0 in New York’s favor for the next three innings as Ryan Meisinger entered the game for the Orioles out of the pen. The 24-year-old made his MLB debut late last month and has seen a decent amount of appearances since then. Monday night’s outing stands as his best so far. Meisinger struck out three while tossing three perfect innings.

After Meisinger’s exit the bullpen completely fell apart. Brad Brach came in for the eighth and picked up two quick outs but failed to close the door. Four Yankees batters picked up two-out hits, including a home run by Austin Romine and an RBI double by Gardner. By the time Brach was yanked, the Yankees had picked up an insurmountable 7-0 lead.

Tanner Scott came in next but couldn’t get the third out fast enough. The Yankees loaded the bases and picked up an eighth run via a throwing error by Schoop. The Orioles finally got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Tim Beckham hit his first home run since returning from the disabled list in late June. New York would go on to get those two runs back in the ninth as they wrapped up a dominant 10-2 win in game two of Monday’s double header.

Game 3 (6-5 BAL): On Tuesday afternoon it was reported that the New York Yankees had entered the trade conversations for Manny Machado. In a year filled with misery for O’s fans this felt like just another jab to the gut. However, those same fans were able to sleep well on Tuesday night knowing that Machado still remained on the O’s long enough to help lift his team to their fifth win over the Yankees this season.

The All-Star shortstop went 3-for-4 at the plate with two game-tying home runs. The first came off of Masahiro Tanaka on the very first pitch of the fifth inning. The New York starter had just come off the disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game but it was not a smooth transition back to the rotation for him. Tanaka only lasted 4.1 innings with Machado’s leadoff homer, marking the third and final run surrendered for the Yankees starter.

Machado’s second homer came in the seventh off of Chad Green. Adam Jones helped set the table by getting on base with a single and Machado followed with a deep shot to right field. Aaron Judge gave chase all the way back to the wall but the ball landed just out of reach for the 6’7″ right fielder as he leaped up in an attempt to rob Machado. The umpires needed to review the play despite the ball landing on the grounds crew roof but the correct call was ultimately made after a brief delay.

The game would remain tied going into the ninth inning. The Orioles bullpen had tossed 2.2 clean innings of relief and the offense responded with one more rally. With Dellin Betances on the mound it seemed almost certain that the game would be going into extra innings but the Orioles caught a break when Caleb Joseph got hit by a pitch in the first at-bat of the inning. Jones kept the momentum going with a double down the right-field line that somehow managed to stay fair. The big hit allowed Joseph to go to third for a sac fly opportunity.

Trumbo came to the plate and turned in a terrible four-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Trumbo appeared to be thrown off right from start and couldn’t find a pitch to drive to the outfield. After this, the weight of the game fell onto Schoop’s shoulders and the second baseman did not disappoint. After watching the first two pitches, Schoop found one he liked down and away in the zone. Schoop extended his arms down and poked the ball past the reach of Greg Bird at first base for the game-winning RBI.

Game 4 (9-0 NYY): After an exciting walk-off win on Tuesday the Orioles had stumbled into the opportunity for their second series win over the Yankees this year. However, New York’s offense jumped all over the Orioles pitching staff and forced a split with their second blowout victory of the series.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the O’s and struggled again in his second start since returning from a brief stint on the disabled list. Bundy had a clean start in the first two innings but quickly unraveled in the third. After putting runners on the corners with two outs, Bundy surrendered an RBI single to Giancarlo Stanton. The damage didn’t stop there. The Yankees loaded the bases and Bird came up big with a grand slam down the right-field line. The ball was hooking to the right but bounced off the foul pole before drifting too far.

Bundy worked one more inning before being replaced by the bullpen. Wright, Jhan Marinez and Donnie Hart all entered the game for the O’s but none of them could keep the Yankees off the board. New York picked up four more runs over the course of the rest of the game to eventually rack up a 9-0 lead.

Tyler Wade put the fifth run on the board in the sixth with his first career home run. Romine launched a solo home run as well and Stanton rounded out the scoring with another RBI single. The Yankees have outscored the Orioles 60-42 this year but the season series is tied up 5-5.

Up next: The Orioles were originally scheduled to have Thursday off but will now be playing a make-up game against Philadelphia. The Orioles and Phillies were meant to play a brief two-game series back in May but the first game had to be postponed due to rain. The O’s will finish off the week by hosting the Texas Rangers before getting a four-day break next week for the All-Star game.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

Orioles return to Camden Yards for eight game home stand before All-Star break

BALTIMORE — The All-Star break is almost upon us. The teams have been announced and as many expected, Manny Machado is the lone Orioles player to be selected. While there is still a week of baseball to play before we reach the mid summer classic, fans are already looking forward to the break away from Orioles baseball and the potential trades that could possibly follow.

How can you blame them? The O’s have lost 13 of their last 14 and have dropped to 41 games below .500 but this past series against the Twins produced even more depressing stats. Chris Davis finally broke the Orioles all time strikeout record in under eight seasons and the offense failed to score more than one run for the 24th time this season. There is plenty more to dig into when it comes to the Orioles abysmal season but you’ve probably already heard most of it because nothing has changed with this team since April.

So what is there to look forward to on the field? I could give you the easy answer and say, “nothing,” but that’s not entirely true. The New York Yankees are in town and that carries more weight than the average matchup. I understand Camden Yards will be full of pinstripes this week and the cheers of Yankees fans will drown out any noise made by the Orioles faithful, but a division matchup is always worth watching in my opinion.

After all, one of the few bright spots in this season came back in April when the O’s took three of four against the Yankees in New York. The series included a couple extra inning games and more than enough excitement for the first month of a 162 game season. However, when the season series came to Baltimore in June, the Yankees got the best of the Birds by taking two in a rain shortened series.

Last meeting: The Yankees visited Camden Yards at the beginning of June but only two of the four scheduled games could be completed due to bad weather throughout the weekend. New York managed to win the two games that were played but make up dates had to be scheduled for the other two. The first will take place on Monday as the O’s and Yankees prepare to play a double header, but the second will have to wait until the Yankees return to Baltimore in late August

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 9, 4:05 pm – Jimmy Yacabonis (0-0, 8.53 ERA) vs CC Sabathia (6-3, 3.02 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Monday, July 9, 7:05 pm – Yefry Ramirez (0-2, 2.51 ERA) vs Luis Cessa (0-1, 5.00 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Tuesday, July 10, 7:05 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-9, 4.39 ERA) vs Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.58 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Wednesday, July 11, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-8, 4.08 ERA) vs Sonny Gray (5-7, 5.85 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Yankees:

  • It’s no secret that the Yankees have one of the most high profile bullpens in the league. Dellin Betances is just one piece of that puzzle for New York and the 30-year-old reliever has been locked in since the end of May. Betances has not surrendered a run since May 23 and has now tossed 17.2 clean innings in a row with 30 strikeouts.
  • New York’s offense has been coming up big the past few weeks, scoring six runs or more in seven of their last thirteen games.
  • Aaron Judge isn’t making as many headlines in 2018 as he was in his rookie season but the New York slugger is still making opposing pitchers pay every chance he gets. Judge is hitting .300 with five home runs and six RBI’s in his last ten games. He has also drawn eight walks to help give himself a .416 on base percentage in that same span.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Dylan Bundy returned to the rotation last week after a brief stint on the disabled list but failed to pick up where he left off. Bundy was tagged for five earned runs in 3.1 innings of work on Friday. The rough outing was particularly disappointing since Bundy was so effective in June prior to his injury. While it is just one start, there may be room for concern with Bundy moving forward. Since becoming a starter for the O’s in 2016, Bundy has struggled in the month of July with a 2-5 record and a 6.98 ERA in eight starts.
  • Rookie pitcher Yefry Ramirez will get another opportunity to start this weekend after impressing in his last two outings. His numbers have looked pretty good on paper but he really deserves more credit for the efficiency he has displayed on the mound. It can be difficult for younger pitchers to get ahead in the count and maintain a low pitch count but Ramirez averaged just a little over 11 pitches per inning in his last two appearances.

Image credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

Orioles continue road trip with four game series against Twins

MINNESOTA — The Orioles wrap up their current six-game road trip with a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins this weekend. After breaking a seven-game losing streak with a win against Los Angeles on Sunday, the O’s continued to disappoint in interleague play by dropping two games against Philadelphia

It was more of the same for the O’s as the offense disappeared and left the pitching staff out to dry. With a little over a week left until the All Star break there isn’t an expectation for this to change, but at this point the team’s performance on the field isn’t the main concern for fans. The trade deadline is on the horizon and fans are thirsty for some hot stove rumors but so far all we have is a bunch of hearsay.

Last meeting: As far as the action on the field is concerned, the Orioles and Twins will square off for the second time this season. The two American league teams met on opening weekend with Minnesota coming out on top in games two and three. The O’s picked up an extra inning win on opening day thanks to a walk-off homer by Adam Jones but the rest of the series was not as closely contested.

You may also remember the infamous bunt by Chance Sisco in game three. The Twins held a comfortable 7-0 lead in the ninth but found an issue with Sisco laying down a bunt to beat the shift. The incident sparked a bunch of reactions from fans and players around the league but disappeared quickly after everyone realized how stupid of an argument it was. I would assume that this will not carry over into this weekend’s series, but maybe some tension would make watching the O’s more fun.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, July 5, 8:10 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48 ERA) vs Aaron Slegers (0-0, 3.38 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Friday, July 6, 8:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-7, 3.75 ERA) vs Lance Lynn (5-7, 5.49 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Saturday, July 7, 2:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (4-6, 4.05 ERA) vs Kyle Gibson (2-6, 3.58 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Sunday, July 8, 2:10 pm – Alex Cobb (2-10, 6.53 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (3-6, 4.57 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Twins:

  • Veteran first baseman Joe Mauer is currently in the middle of his 15th major league season. Mauer has accomplished a lot in his career but his numbers against the Orioles are still quite impressive on their own. He holds a .342 batting average against the O’s, which is his second highest career total against American league opponents.
  • Slegers will make his first start of the 2018 season on Thursday. The 25-year-old’s only appearance of the year came on May 30 when Slegers tossed 5.1 innings of relief and surrendered two runs in the process. Since debuting in 2017 Slegers is 0-1 with a 5.70 ERA in three career starts.

Notes on Orioles:

  • The Orioles will get their best starter back in the rotation during this four game series. Bundy hit the 10-day disabled list after suffering an ankle sprain against the Braves. The injury prematurely ended a great month for the young pitcher. Bundy had picked up three wins with a 1.98 ERA in four starts last month.
  • Tim Beckham got off to a slow start in 2018 and things only got worse when he suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for two months. Since returning, Beckham has been raising his batting average at a consistent pace by picking up at least one hit in his last seven games. The O’s third baseman is batting .322 since returning to the lineup on June 25.

You can listen to this week’s episode of the Charm City Bird Watch podcast here:

Image credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

Orioles place Colby Rasmus on restricted list after outfielder tells team he is leaving

On Tuesday afternoon Colby Rasmus informed manager Buck Showalter that he will be leaving the team. The Orioles promptly placed Rasmus on the restricted list.

Rasmus did not provide a specific reason for his departure but it is the second time in his career that he has left a team while under contract. Showalter told the media that Rasmus wished to “go home and discontinue playing.” The Orioles manager went on to say that the team will honor his request. “We wish him well, and we’ll see what the future brings.”

The restricted list doesn’t get brought up often but is in place for scenarios like this. Teams may place a player on the restricted list if they leave the team without a valid reason. A player may also be placed on the list after they announce retirement. This also ensures that the Orioles will remain in possession of the remainder of Rasmus’ contract if he does decide to return to baseball.

Some are speculating that Rasmus is announcing his retirement but the utility outfielder did the same thing last season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rasmus suffered a hip injury in 2017 that saw him hit the disabled list in June. On July 13 he told the Rays he would be leaving.

The same exact scenario appears to have played out once again in 2018 with Rasmus dealing with another hip injury. Rasmus landed on the disabled list earlier this season and only recently returned to the lineup in late June.

At the time of his departure, the veteran outfielder was batting .133 with one home run and 19 strikeouts in just under 50 plate appearances. Rasmus entered the tenth year of his professional career by signing a minor league contract with the Orioles this past offseason worth $3 million.

Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch podcast

Image credit: Steve Mitchell / USA Today Sports

Orioles finish June with 6-2 loss to Angels

BALTIMORE — On Saturday afternoon the Baltimore Orioles dropped a late afternoon game against the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 and extended their losing streak to seven straight.

After almost getting shutout in Friday’s series opener, the Orioles offense struck early on Saturday with two runs in the first inning. Tim Beckham got it started in the leadoff spot with a single to set the table. Adam Jones immediately followed him with a single of his own, allowing Beckham to round second and safely head to third. Manny Machado came up to bat next and battled Tyler Skaggs in a lengthy plate appearance before bringing Beckham in with an RBI single to left field.

The offense slowed down from here but the O’s still managed to push another run across with a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia. That would end the offensive output for the O’s on Saturday evening. The lineup went ice cold, just like the night before, and only mustered three more hits through the next eight innings.

Andrew Cashner got the start for Baltimore and did his best to make those two runs count. Cashner surrendered just one run in the fourth and finished his night after six innings. This quality start rounds out Cashner’s best month of the season so far. The veteran starter will finish June with a 3.21 ERA in five starts.

Brad Brach picked up where Cashner left off by completing a clean 1-2-3 inning on 17 pitches. Going into the eighth the Orioles maintained their slim 2-1 lead but it was only a matter of time before the inconsistent bullpen broke down.

Mychal Givens got the first out of the eighth but then unraveled by giving up a pair of walks and an RBI double to Albert Pujols. Buck Showalter quickly replaced Givens with Tanner Scott but the rookie pitcher could not stop the bleeding. Scott issued a walk to Andrelton Simmons before Chris Young brought home the go-ahead run with a fielder’s choice. Two more runs were scored in the inning after Scott hit Martin Maldonado with the bases loaded and then gave up a two-RBI single to David Fletcher.

When it was all said and done the Angels had not only come back, but also picked up a comfortable 6-2 lead. As you might have guessed, this lead was very safe through the final two innings and Los Angeles picked up their fifth win against the O’s this season.

The Orioles will finish June with a 6-20 record, meaning their latest incredibly miserable feat is not winning a single game against an American league team all month. The Orioles have also dropped 17 of their last 18 home games as they limped through the half way point of the season with the worst record in the league, 23-59.

Image credit: Gail Burton / Associated Press