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What moves can return the Orioles to postseason in 2017?

What moves can return the Orioles to postseason in 2017?

In 2017, the Orioles will try to accomplish something they haven’t done in 20 years, play in the postseason in consecutive seasons.

While the Orioles have the most wins in the American League over the past five seasons (444), they played in the postseason in 2012, 2014 and 2016, but didn’t in 2013 and 2015. 

Before each of the postseason years, the Orioles made key moves, whether it was in the traditional offseason months or at the beginning of spring training. In the years they didn’t qualify, their postseasons weren’t terribly active at all. 

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When Dan Duquette took over nearly five years ago, his first offseason included the signing of Wei-Yin Chen, trading Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom as well as drafting Ryan Flaherty. 

He made some other moves during spring training and during the season, signing Miguel Gonzalez and Nate McLouth that became huge successes. 

Following the 2012 season, the Orioles had a young and inexpensive team, and their only major moves were nontendering Mark Reynolds and re-signing McLouth. 

The Orioles won 86 games in 2013, but finished out of the playoffs. 

While Duquette was heavily criticized for inaction during the winter, he saw two players, Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez that offered good values, and he signed them early in spring training. A trip to the American League Championship Series followed. 

In the offseason that followed, Duquette was rumored to be the next president of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Orioles quickly lost Cruz, Nick Markakis and Andrew Miller with no suitable replacements. A .500 season followed. 

Last season featured Duquette making moves early and often—securing Matt Wieters for another year after he accepted a qualifying offer, trading for Mark Trumbo, signing Hyun Soo Kim, and re-signing Darren O’Day and Chris Davis. 

In spring training, Yovani Gallardo and Pedro Alvarez were added. 

This offseason, the Orioles don’t seem to have as many holes as they did a year ago, but for one of them, they must decide quickly what they’re going to do. 

Wieters is again a free agent, and the Orioles must decide whether they’re going to seriously pursue him, or if he leaves whether they’ll fill the catching vacancy internally or externally. 

There won’t be many quality catchers on the market, and the Orioles should move expeditiously to either sign or trade for someone who could start in 2017. 

They could decide they think a combination of Chance Sisco and Caleb Joseph can handle the job, but that decision must not linger. 

The Orioles must improve their depth so that manager Buck Showalter feels comfortable in resting Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop. 

While the Orioles may try and re-sign Wieters and Mark Trumbo, they won’t be chasing after big ticket free agents early in free agency. 

There are few quality pitchers on the prospective market, but there are some quality hitters including Alvarez, Trumbo, Jose Bautista, Carlos Beltran, Yoenis Cespedes, Ian Desmond, Edwin Encarnacion, Dexter Fowler, Kendrys Morales, Mitch Moreland, Colby Rasmus, Josh Reddick and Michael Saunders.

It’s not Duquette’s way to try and outbid other teams, but there are so many good hitters that perhaps one or two of these names, or ones from the second tier fall into the Orioles’ price range. 

In order to improve their depth, the Orioles will likely again be active in the Rule 5 draft, but unless they move a pitcher or two from their current crop, it seems unlikely they can be flexible enough to keep a drafted pitcher on hand. 

In 2015, the Orioles drafted Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett. They ended up keeping Garcia and sending Verrett back to the Mets. 

Having Garcia on the staff complicated manager Buck Showalter’s use of the bullpen, and he was sent to Bowie to start in 2016, but didn’t raise many eyebrows. 

Joey Rickard, the outfielder drafted last December, proved to be a useful addition who filled in for Jones and platooned with Kim before he was hurt. 

If the Orioles find a pitcher they like they’d have to include him on a prospective staff that already includes starters Gallardo, Jimenez, Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Wade Miley and Chris Tillman as well as relievers Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart, and Darren O’Day. 

It’s more likely that a Rule 5 pick would be a position player. 

While the early part of the offseason may include a series of smaller moves with bigger ones waiting for the market to settle, fans will undoubtedly criticize what they see as Duquette’s seeming lack of action. 

They shouldn’t because in the end if he has a decent start to free agency, he usually has a strong finish—and so do the Orioles. 

 

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Rainout delays Orioles RHP Cobb's reunion with Rays

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USA TODAY Sports

Rainout delays Orioles RHP Cobb's reunion with Rays

BALTIMORE -- The Tampa Bay Rays have to wait at least one more day before taking their swings against former teammate Alex Cobb.

Cobb, now with the Baltimore Orioles, was scheduled to face his old team on Tuesday night before the game was postponed by rain.

Thus, Cobb will start Wednesday in the delayed start of this series between the only two AL East teams with losing records.

The rainout will be made up as part of single-admission doubleheader on May 12.

It was the 27th major league game to be postponed this season, the most related to weather through April since the commissioner's office started keeping records in 1986. Detroit's game at Pittsburgh was washed out later Tuesday, raising the total to 28.

Cobb, 30, spent his entire career with the Rays before signing with Baltimore as a free agent on March 21. Over six years with Tampa Bay, the right-hander was 48-35 and one of the leaders of the staff.

"He was a crucial part to this organization's success," Rays starter Chris Archer said. "He's a big-game pitcher and somebody who's very consistent, very routine oriented. The competitive nature rubbed off on me and rubbed off on the other guys in this clubhouse as well."

Cobb signed a $57 million, four-year deal with the Orioles, who will be counting on him to deliver the same kind of pitching and leadership in Baltimore.

Thus far, it hasn't gone well. Cobb got off to a late start because he missed most of spring training, and since his return he's gone 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA.

"Abbreviation has affected that," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He's going to get going here. Hopefully he can wait one more start before he does."

Brad Miller was down to bat cleanup for the Rays on Tuesday night before the game was called. Miller knew better than to chat with his old friend beforehand.

"Definitely wouldn't talk to him on his start days," Miller said. "Thought about maybe texting him just to rattle him a little bit, but ... ."

Miller won't know what to think when he sees Cobb wearing the orange and black of the Orioles.

"It's definitely going to be weird seeing him on the mound," Miller said. "I miss Cobb a lot. He was the ultimate competitor."

And that, Miller contends, is what sets Cobb apart from most pitchers.

"He's a bulldog. Really intense, kind of an old-school throwback starting pitcher," Miller said. "He's going to go out there and do anything he can for his team. So that, for me, is obviously his biggest trait."

The rainout came at an opportune time for the Orioles, who are hampered by injuries and have lost nine of 10 games to fall 11 games under .500 (6-17).

Baltimore's projected starting lineup did not include infielder Tim Beckham, who's been bothered by a groin injury and is expected to land on the 10-day disabled list.

With Beckham out and Trey Mancini playing with a tender right knee, manager Buck Showalter would have been operating with a short bench.

Help is on the way: Baltimore claimed utility infielder Jace Peterson on waivers from the New York Yankees. He's expected to arrive Wednesday.

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Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

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USA TODAY Sports

Indians' 14-hit victory hands Orioles 8th loss in 9 games

BALTIMORE — The Cleveland Indians figured it would only be a matter of time before their struggling offense provided some support to a solid starting rotation.

Jose Ramirez and the rest of the batting order finally got into a groove Sunday, and the result was a 14-hit attack that carried Corey Kluber and the Indians past the Baltimore Orioles 7-3.

Cleveland came into the game with a .211 team batting average and ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs scored. On this day, however, Ramirez hit a solo shot in the fourth inning and a two-run drive in the ninth, and Yan Gomes had three hits to lift his batting average 41 points to .261.

"When things are not going my way, I stay positive and work it," Ramirez said through a translator. "I know eventually I'm going to break out."

Ramirez has three homers in two games and a team-leading seven for the season.

"I try not to do too much," Ramirez said. "I just look for a good pitch and then I hit it somewhere."

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Kluber yielded two home runs to Manny Machado, but the Indians twice came from behind before tacking on three runs in the ninth.

"I thought we did a pretty good job," manager Terry Francona said. "When they came back, we came back at them. We kept pushing and took some better swings."

Kluber (3-1) allowed three runs and six hits over seven-plus innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner walked none and struck out four to move past Charles Nagy into sixth place on the Indians' career strikeout list with 1,238.

"It doesn't matter if you feel you pitched well or didn't pitch well. The goal is to end the game with more runs they do," Kluber said. "That's what we did."

Machado's third multihomer game of the season wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from losing for the ninth time in 10 games, a skid that has dropped them 10 games under .500 (6-16).

"You know what? There's no excuse for what's happening," Machado said. "We need to play better overall. Nobody is in here pointing fingers. We are in here together, and we are going to ride or die together."

Andrew Cashner (1-3) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings, walking two and striking out seven. He's 0-3 with 7.41 ERA in three lifetime appearances against the Indians.

After Machado connected in the first inning, Cleveland went up 2-1 in the fourth when Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso hit successive doubles following a leadoff homer by Ramirez.

Baltimore regained the lead in the bottom half. After Machado homered, Adam Jones doubled and scored on a single by Chris Davis.

A pair of walks and run-scoring singles by Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley put the Indians up 4-3 in the fifth.

"Once you get the lead, you can't give it up," Cashner lamented.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: CF Bradley Zimmer was a late scratch with a mild right ankle sprain. He was replaced by Rajai Davis.

Orioles: LF Trey Mancini missed a second straight game with a swollen right knee. ... DH Mark Trumbo (strained right quad) will begin a three-game stint with Double-A Bowie on Monday, then play three games with Triple-A Norfolk later in the week, manager Buck Showalter said. He won't be rushed to return. "It's important we get it right the first time," Showalter said.

WELL RESTED

Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin threw a side session Saturday and is expected to start Tuesday against the Cubs. Francona opted to skip Tomlin's last scheduled start Wednesday to reset the rotation after Cleveland had two straight games postponed last weekend.

UP NEXT

Indians: Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 3.48 ERA) starts the series finale Monday night. The right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.75 ERA over his past 11 starts since Aug. 27.

Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57) makes his fifth start of the season after allowing 27 hits -- including six homers -- over 21 innings.

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