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Orioles face interesting dilemma with Caleb Joseph

Orioles face interesting dilemma with Caleb Joseph

In 2015, Caleb Joseph had the fourth most RBIs on the Orioles. A year later, he had the least. 

By now, everyone knows that Joseph had a horrible offensive season with not a single RBI. 

With Matt Wieters returning to his fulltime role, a drop in Joseph’s offensive production was to be expected. He wasn’t going to play 100 games as he did in 2015—with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs. 

But, Joseph who played in 49 games, didn’t show any offense at all.

His defense wasn’t awful and still threw out 31 percent of the runners attempting to steal, and seven of those 22 successful steals came in Ubaldo Jimenez’s first four starts of the season. 

Joseph’s season was marred by the scary testicular injury he suffered on May 30, when he actually finished the game after he was injured in the eighth inning.

Joseph missed a month because of the injury, but his offense never returned. 

Before the injury, Joseph was still hurting offensively, going 66 at-bats without an RBI. He had 66 more at-bats after coming back on July 3 without an RBI. 

His only sustained playing time came when he played six consecutive games in mid-July when Matt Wieters injured a foot, and had three straight two-hit games, but no RBIs. 

Once Wieters came back, Joseph hardly played, and was sent down to Norfolk for 10 days in late August to help him regain his batting eye. 

Joseph was recalled when the rosters were expanded, but in the final weeks of the season, started just six times, going 1-for-18. 

A year ago when it looked as if Wieters was going to leave as a free agent, Joseph would have been a consideration as the No. 1 catcher. 

His defense was good, his offense wasn’t bad, and he seemed to have a good rapport with the pitchers. 

The point became moot when Wieters surprisingly accepted a $15.8 million qualifying offer and Joseph happily welcomed him back even though he knew his playing time would be cut drastically. 

A year later, the situation is even murkier. 

It’s not certain that the Orioles will offer Wieters a qualifying offer of $17.2 million. There’s been some talk that in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement teams won’t be able to proffer qualifying offers in consecutive years. With perhaps two weeks left in the postseason, it’s looking unlikely that a new CBA will be completed and ratified by the players and owners by then. 

The Orioles should give Wieters a qualifying offer. He had a good enough season to merit it, and they shouldn’t let him leave without getting a compensatory draft choice in return. 

Wieters is arguably the most attractive catcher on the free agent market with Washington’s Wilson Ramos out for at least the early part of next season following his Friday knee surgery. 

Many clubs are interested in Wieters, and the Orioles should protect themselves with a qualifying offer. 

The Orioles can’t enter 2017 with Joseph as their No. 1 catcher. While they’re confident his offense will return, his drop was so drastic that they shouldn’t be assured it will return next year. 

But, he’s certainly good enough defensively to be a backup catcher, and while there’s been some talk about pursuing a placeholder while Chance Sisco gets ready, Wieters is still the best choice for 2017—and perhaps beyond. 

Sisco has a terrific on-base percentage of .402 in the minors, and the Orioles certainly want to improve their OBP. However his defense needs a lot of work. At Bowie, he allowed 100 stolen bases in 83 games, throwing out just 25 percent of runners trying to steal.

Colorado’s Nick Hundley has been mentioned as a possibility. He’s a free agent, and he worked well with pitchers, particularly Chris Tillman in 2014 after Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery. 

Hundley doesn’t have a good arm. In 2016, he threw out just 14 percent (9 of 66) runners attempting to steal. 

With the Orioles, Hundley threw out only five of 27 (19 percent), but runners rarely try to steal on Tillman, who’s especially skilled at holding them on base. 

A Hundley-Joseph team for 2017 wouldn’t be bad and room could always be made if the Orioles think Sisco is ready defensively next season. Another year of Wieters-Joseph would be better. 

RELATED: Orioles hoping for Davis rebound in 2017

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Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

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USA Today Sports

Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered Friday night and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched third place in the AL East with a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria led off the fifth with his 20th homer off Baltimore starter Wade Miley, marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career.

RELATED: WILD CARD RACES WITH THREE DAYS REMAINING

Morrison hit his 38th homer off reliever Chris Tillman in the seventh.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee.

Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win as the first of four Tampa Bay relievers.

Miley (8-15) lost his fifth straight start, giving up four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked five, raising his major league-leading total to 93. The Baltimore bullpen gave up five more walks.

Trey Mancini had one of Baltimore's four hits. It was Mancini's 158th hit, tying Cal Ripken (1982) for second-place all-time among Oriole rookies.

The Orioles, shut out for the 11th time, lost for the 17th time in 21 games and dropped three games behind Tampa Bay with two games left in the season.

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

With the MLB postseason only five days away and three more days in the regular season the playoff field is almost set.

After Thursday night’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Their 2-1 loss to the Cubs put them too far out of reach of the Rockies.

In the American League the AL East race is all but done after the Yankees lost on Thursday.

RELATED: NEW MLB BRACKET PROJECTION WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Not too many changes in the American League race after yesterday.

The New York Yankees (89-70) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 at home after entering the day only three games back in the division. While the Boston Red Sox (92-67) lost too, three games to surpass is too much for even the Bronx Bombers to overcome.

It will be interesting though to watch both teams sweat. Boston hosts the Houston Astros who are trying to overtake the Indians for the top seed in the AL. New York hosts division rivals Toronto.

The Minnesota Twins (83-76) lost to the Indians after allowing 10 hits in the contest. Win or lose it does not matter how they end the season because they will be the No. 5 seed and the visitors in the American League Wild Card Game. Presumably it will be against the Yankees.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

New York Yankees:     +6.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado was off on Thursday night in preparation for their final series of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers (84-75) did manage to gain a half game with their nail biting 4-3 win over the Reds. Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the final three frames remained scoreless for both squads.

They now move to two games back of the Colorado Rockies (86-73) with three games to go.

Colorado will host their final series against the Dodgers. Milwaukee is traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals (82-77) for their final three games. St. Louis is now out of contention, four games out of the final Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs.com now has Colorado at a 93.3 percent chance of taking the final postseason spot.  Milwaukee moved up slightly to 6.7 percent.

MORE NATS: WALK-OFF FOR THE NATS, COURTESY OF DE AZA

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -2.0