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Orioles fans dreaming of Andrew Miller are not realistic

Orioles fans dreaming of Andrew Miller are not realistic

As some Orioles fans watched the Cleveland Indians take a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays, there were a number who wondered about Andrew Miller. 

The Orioles showed little interest in re-signing Miller after the 2014 season, but were all about Darren O’Day a year later, they said. 

Miller signed for four years and $36 million, and a year later, O’Day for four years and $31 million. 

The situations were very different. 

RELATED: ORIOLES PUZZLED OVER CHRIS DAVIS' 2016 NUMBERS

Everyone around the Orioles loved Miller. There was nothing not to love. In 20 innings, he struck out 34 and walked just four and had a Britton-like WHIP of 0.600. 

In the postseason Miller was even better, giving up just one hit in 7 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking one. 

Miller has been nearly unhittable in this year’s postseason, allowing three hits in 7 2/3 innings to the fearsome Red Sox and Blue Jays lineups, and recording 17 strikeouts in 23 outs. 

Why couldn’t the Orioles have kept him? 

Miller liked his 10 weeks in Baltimore, and was popular among his teammates, and the Orioles didn’t make an effort to sign him, telling his agent they didn’t feel they could compete with a team like the Yankees, who signed him. He also may have had more lucrative offers from others. 

After 2014, the Orioles lost not only Miller, but Nelson Cruz, who many fans still miss and Nick Markakis, and that offseason has generally been considered an awful one. 

While the Orioles’ bullpen has continued to shine in the last two seasons, the production of Cruz and Markakis is still missed. 

The Orioles tried to re-sign Cruz, but the Seattle Mariners were willing to give him a fourth year.
Two seasons into the four-year, $57 million contract, Cruz has continued to play well. He’s hit 87 home runs and driven in 198 runs while hitting .287.

Perhaps the primary reason the Orioles refused to give Cruz a fourth year was his age, but at 36, he had a better offensive season than his excellent one with the Orioles in 2014. 

Last year, the Orioles made an organizational change. They decided that in order to compete they had to be more aggressive with free agents. 

A year ago, no one would have dreamed a seven-year, $161 million contract for Chris Davis was possible, or that they’d pay that much for a relief pitcher. 

The Orioles still probably won’t win many bidding wars over free agents. The biggest ones they’ve signed during the Dan Duquette era have been their own (Davis, O’Day Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters) or those at a deep discount because there wasn’t a great market for them (Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Yovani Gallardo and Pedro Alvarez). 

In Feb. 2014, it was a stretch for the Orioles to sign Jimenez for four years, and after his poor initial season, the team was reluctant to offer four years to another free agent pitcher, and that’s why they weren’t going after Miller. 

Even now, the four-year barrier could be difficult to overcome if they’re trying to extend Chris Tillman. 

The money for Miller and O’Day isn’t quite as comparable as it looks, either. 

Miller’s contract is for four years at $9 million a season while $4 million of O’Day’s $31 million is deferred. 

The Orioles are hoping that O’Day rebounds smartly from his painful 2016 season when he missed more than the year with hamstring and shoulder injuries. 

His 2016 production lagged. In 34 games, O’Day was 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA. The ERA was more than half again as much as his previous high with the Orioles (2.28 in 2012). 

The Orioles thought they were taking a good risk with O’Day, who hadn’t suffered any disabling injuries in his first four seasons with the team. 

They were heartened by his last three regular season outings (2 2/3 perfect innings), and the sharp five-out performance in the wild-card game. 

Miller would have been wonderful to have, and it’s great to see the inventive way Terry Francona has been using him, but the bullpen is hardly the Orioles’ weakness. 

With O’Day, Brad Brach, Zach Britton and Mychal Givens, it’s one of the game’s best. 

While having Miller as part of that bullpen would be great, but it just wasn’t possible—or realistic. 

RELATED: ADAM JONES ON THE CUSP OF LEGEND STATUS IN BALTIMORE

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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