Podcast Episode 13: Checking in on the Ravens, the Maryland investigation, and The Fan’s Alex Woodward joins us!

Welcome to Episode 13 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

On Tuesday evening, it was announced that Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith will be suspended for the first four games of the 2018 regular season for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. Jake, Nolan, and Ian kick off this week’s show by talking about how Smith’s absence will impact the Ravens, particularly during weeks 2 and 4 on the road against the Bengals and Steelers (3:24).

Following the discussion on Smith, the guys dive into the Ravens’ 20-19 preseason win over the Colts on Monday Night Football (11:30). There’s certainly plenty to talk about regarding the status of Ronnie Stanley (12:46), and Who’s Trending (22:39) following Monday’s win that moved the Ravens to 3-0 in preseason action.

In the last part of this week’s Ravens discussion, the Charm City Bird Watch crew goes over a few things to watch for on Saturday (41:14) as the Ravens take on the Dolphins from Hard Rock Stadium in their fourth preseason affair.

After the Ravens portion of the show wraps up, Jake sits down with a long-time 105.7 The Fan board operator Alex Woodward (45:44). After working as a board operator for five years, Woodward has recently been given a few opportunities to host a live show over The Fan’s airwaves. In addition to talking Ravens, Orioles, and the Maryland Football scandal, the two spent some time discussing the radio industry and sports talk radio’s presence in today’s media-filled world.

Speaking of the Maryland Football scandal, the next segment of the show dives into the latest details surrounding the current investigation taking place at the university (1:02:39). On Monday, a number of Maryland football players made a number of announcements pertaining to how they will honor McNair’s legacy throughout the next few seasons. Are Damon Evans and Wallace Loh doomed? Jake, Nolan, and Ian try to answer this very important question.

Up next, the guys catch up on the Orioles (1:11:12), specifically Alex Cobb‘s perfect game from Saturday and Mark Trumbo‘s trip to the disabled list that will likely end his season. Will the O’s still be able to shop Trumbo amidst this latest setback, and should Cobb start on Opening Day 2019 ahead of Dylan Bundy?

To wrap up the show, we dive into our weekly numbers segment, taking a look at the best Ravens & Orioles players to wear the number 13 (1:17:33).

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and now Google Play. Please leave us a review on iTunes, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

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Orioles trade Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to Braves

BALTIMORE — With Tuesday afternoon’s trade deadline looming, the Baltimore Orioles surprised everyone by agreeing to trade Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to Atlanta.

The Orioles received four prospects in return for Gausman and O’Day – Infielder Jean Carlos Encarnacion, catcher Brett Cumberland, left-handed pitcher Bruce Zimmermann and right-handed pitcher Evan Phillips. The Braves have one of the most loaded farm systems in baseball and sent two of their top 30 prospects to Baltimore in the deal.

Encarnacion headlines the group as one of the best infielders coming up in the Braves system. He was signed in 2016 at the age of 18 out of the Dominican Republic and has spent the past two years playing rookie ball. In 2018 he was moved to Single-A Rome where he is currently hitting .288 with 10 homers and 57 RBI’s in just under 100 games. His 100 strikeouts are a concern but Encarnacion has shown a lot of potential as a hitter.

Standing at 6’3″, he could grow into a power hitter but for now his ability to make contact is enough to earn him attention. Defensively, Encarnacion has settled into a role at third base after initially playing some shortstop.

Cumberland rounds out the Braves top 30 prospect list as one of a few young catchers in their farm system. As a switch hitter, Cumberland has shown some power from both sides of the plate but often swings and misses. The 23-year-old has spent time at Single-A and Double-A this season where he is hitting just .228 with 90 strikeouts in 87 games. His defense behind the plate is still a work in progress as well.

Outside of these top 30 pickups, the Orioles also acquired two pitching prospects. Zimmermann will likely make more headlines in this deal as a starter, while Phillips continues to develop as a reliever. Zimmermann is a lefty with good strikeout numbers. In 20 starts between Single-A and Double-A, he has a 9-4 record with a 2.96 ERA. His 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings is also a good sign.

Phillips is a right-handed pitcher who started his minor league journey back in 2015. He currently finds himself at the Triple-A level with a 1.99 ERA and eight saves in 40.2 innings of relief. Phillips also made his major league debut with the Braves earlier this season but struggled in his brief appearances.

Throughout the month of July the Orioles front office has been dead set on just trading the players with expiring contracts. Dan Duquette and company stated that the door was also open for offers on players like Gausman, Jonathan Schoop and Mychal Givens, but until Tuesday afternoon this just felt like a safe media answer. In addition to the Gausman deal, the O’s ended up trading Schoop to the Brewers.

However, with Adam Jones‘s recent decision to not waive his no-trade clause, the Orioles may have felt more pressure to deal Gausman and Schoop, despite having years left on their contracts, to ensure that their farm system gets the overhaul it desperately needs.

Gausman was selected by the Orioles in the first round of the 2012 draft and made his major league debut a year later. By 2014 he was a consistent member of the starting rotation, earning seven wins in 20 starts. The Orioles had seemingly turned the franchise around after 2012 and Gausman was projected to be their No. 1 pitcher as they became perennial contenders.

While the 27-year-old has certainly looked like an ace on many occasions, he has struggled with consistency. Over the past five seasons in Baltimore Gausman has gone 36-46 with a 4.12 ERA.

Gausman will join an Atlanta team right in the middle of a playoff hunt. He will also be greeted by some former teammates like Nick Markakis and Ryan Flaherty. Fellow pitcher Brad Brach was also traded to the Braves this past Sunday.

If Atlanta does end up making the playoffs, Gausman has some experience under his belt that could benefit his new team. During the 2014 playoff run, Gausman never started a game but he did toss eight innings of relief between three games. In those appearances Gausman surrendered just one run and struck out seven.

O’Day is an interesting addition to the trade considering he finds himself out for the rest of the year. It’s not surprising that his name never came up in trade conversations after suffering the injury but with the Orioles moving toward a full rebuild, it makes sense to add him to this deal as a sweetener.

In seven seasons with the Orioles, O’Day accumulated a 28-14 record with a 2.40 ERA as a reliever. His unique pitching motion helped make him a deceptive change of pace coming out of the bullpen. In recent years he performed well pitching in the setup role before Zach Britton would enter for a save opportunity.

Image credit: Evan Habeeb / USA Today Sports

Three takeaways from Orioles series win over Rays

BALTIMORE — This weekend the Orioles picked up their first series win since the All-Star break by taking three of four from Tampa Bay. After dropping Thursday’s series opener 4-3, the offense exploded and scored 37 runs over the course of the next three games.

We all know wins have been hard to come by all year, so it’s not surprising to hear that this is just the second time that the O’s have won three games in a row this season. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but the Birds longest winning streak is four games and they will have a chance to match that as they head to New York on Tuesday. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the wins while they last. Here are some highlights from the Orioles big weekend.

1. Four quality starts:

The lineup stole the spotlight this weekend with a barrage of home runs and RBI’s but the starting rotation was locked in as well. Four of the five O’s starters got the chance to pitch in this series and each one turned in a quality outing. Alex Cobb got it started on Thursday with six innings of work. The veteran starter surrendered three earned runs and was served his 14th loss of the year but the performance was still a step in the right direction. Cobb finished June with a 6.75 ERA and has been able to slowly lower it down to 6.08 over the course of July. His 2-14 record on the year remains ugly but some of the recent losses can certainly be chalked up to a lack of run support.

Andrew Cashner kept the ball rolling in his start on Friday by going six innings and giving up just a pair of runs. Cashner continues to be one of the more consistent members of the rotation and has given up three runs or less in seven of his last eight starts.

The run support kept coming on Saturday but Kevin Gausman didn’t even need it as he turned in a great bounce-back performance to help the Orioles win 11-2. Gausman tossed seven innings and gave up just two runs which was a much-needed rebound from his previous three starts in which he struggled to go five innings and gave up over four runs per outing.

Dylan Bundy rounded out the weekend by picking up his seventh win of the season. After suffering an injury against Atlanta, Bundy hit the disabled list and lost the momentum he had built in the month of June. His return from the disabled list was very lackluster and consisted of three short outings where he gave up five runs each time. July has not been kind to Bundy throughout his three major league seasons but hopefully Sunday’s rebound start is a sign of a strong finish that is to come.

2. Curtain call for Jones:

The drama of the trade deadline has already hit the Orioles hard this year as Manny Machado was dealt to the Dodgers and then Zach Britton was shipped off to New York. Both trades saw good returns but the departure of those two players was hard to swallow for O’s fans.

As the deadline approaches on Tuesday, Adam Jones is the next name in the trade block. The 13-year veteran is in the final year of his contract which holds a no-trade clause that he must waive if the Orioles are going to deal him. Essentially Jones is in full control of his immediate future. The center-fielder has not been shy about giving his thoughts on the trade speculation and even presented a scenario earlier this month in which the Orioles trade him to a contender but he re-signs with Baltimore in the offseason.

This past weekend Jones reportedly met with the front office to discuss these potential trades. The Phillies, Giants and Indians have all reached out to the O’s and made offers but according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, Jones has not shown any interest in waiving the no-trade clause and leaving the Orioles.

Things could change before Tuesday’s deadline, but for now it sounds like Jones will still be an Oriole on Wednesday. If things do in fact change, Sunday could mark Jones’ final home game as an Oriole. If that does end up being the case, the longtime Oriole will have left on a high note. Jones went 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI to help lift the O’s to an 11-5 win over the Rays.

3. Schoop’s streak:

Jonathan Schoop has been on fire all month. Coming into July he was batting just .197 and could not find his groove for any extended period of time. This led Buck Showalter to sit Schoop on the bench for a couple of games in an attempt to clear the second baseman’s head.

As the end of July approaches, Schoop has successfully raised his average to .244 by picking up a hit in 22 of his last 23 starts. The O’s second baseman came into Sunday afternoon with an 11-game hit streak but found himself in danger of losing it after going 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts early in the game. Schoop saw his final at-bat of the afternoon in the seventh inning and he made it count. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Schoop got ahold of a slider and sent it over the center-field wall into the Orioles bullpen to give the O’s a 9-3 lead and extend his hit streak to 12 games.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images