Orioles

Azarenka plans to party with Redfoo after final

201301260319119764649-p2.jpeg

Azarenka plans to party with Redfoo after final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Victoria Azarenka plans to celebrate with her rap star friend Redfoo after a dramatic Australian Open.

Azarenka was joined by Party Rock Crew, as Redfoo's group is known, after the winning the title against Li Na on Saturday.

The LMFAO frontman known for his wild hair and wilder music has been a colorful addition to this year's Australian Open, where he was a regular fixture in Azarenka's front-row seats. During her final, his leopard-print jacket was visible from the upper decks.

``It's a dream come true,'' Redfoo told an Australian TV station, referring to Azarenka's win. ``I came out here to support her, and I'm just so happy.''

The interviewer seemed more interested in getting the pair to talk about their relationship, which made the 23-year-old Azarenka turn bright red.

In one attempt to change the subject, Redfoo said that he and Azarenka share a love for music.

``She's actually very into music, she has a piano now on the road. In the off-season she might be my pianist,'' Redfoo said of the world's No. 1 player.

The interaction was a light moment after a heavy match.

Azarenka beat China's Li 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, overcoming a hostile crowd to win her second back-to-back Australian Open title.

Li twisted her ankle twice, needed two medical timeouts and hit her head on the hard court. When twisted her ankle the second time and fell, Li said she blacked out for a couple of seconds. That happened early in the third set after a 10-minute break for Australia day fireworks.

When Li sent the last point long, Azarenka dropped her racket and began to sob. During the trophy ceremony she thanked her coach and the Party Rock Crew.

By the end of the ceremony Azarenka was all smiles, and the interviewer asked how she planned to celebrate.

``We party,'' Azarenka said.

Redfoo added: ``We bring out the bottles'' - a subtle plug for his upcoming new single called ``Keep Calm and Bring Out the Bottles.''

---

FRENCH OPEN, HERE SHE COMES: Li Na might have lost the Australian Open, but she'll always have Paris.

In a remarkably upbeat mood despite her loss, Li noted that several runners-up in Melbourne have gone on to win the French Open later in the year.

Last year, Maria Sharapova also lost to Azarenka and went on to win at Roland Garros.

The same thing happened to her, too.

In 2011, Li made an historic run to the Australian Open final but failed to deliver China its first Grand Slam trophy - until a few months later at the French Open.

In 2008, Ana Ivanovic lost the Australian final before winning the French Open.

``I don't know,'' Li said. ``I hope I can do the same this year.''

---

FLASHBACK TO CHINA: Li Na joked that it seemed like the China Open with all the Chinese chants and red flags waving in Melbourne.

Chinese fans poured into Rod Laver Arena for the match and cheered Li on with shouts of ``Jai You Li Na'' - or Let's Go Li Na!

Li said she felt lifted by the support.

``I (could) hear a lot of Chinese fans,'' she said.

So could the chair umpire, who had to ask for silence as some exuberant fans cheered in the middle of points.

``Also, I (could) see them with the China national flag everywhere,'' she said, with a big smile. ``I was like, `Oh! It looks like the China Open.'''

It was a change from 2011, when Li admitted she struggled to deal with how some fans cheered during her final.

Li's success at the Australian Open in the past few years has likely increased the number of Chinese fans at the season's first major and helped the growth of the sport in China.

Quick Links

What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

yusniel_diaz.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

What exactly did the Orioles get in return for Manny Machado?

So, the Orioles made some headlines earlier this week. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but minor league pitcher Asher Wojciechowski exercised his opt-out clause and is no longer with the organization. Please keep Orioles fans in your thoughts during this trying time.

As everyone reading this is undoubtedly already aware, the Orioles *also* made a trade yesterday, sending 26-year old superstar Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return for their once-in-a-lifetime talent, the Orioles received a whopping five prospects from the Dodgers’ minor league system.

Yusniel Diaz, OF, 21

It’s fitting that this trade is being compared to the Erik Bedard trade, which was also a five-for-one, because Diaz could be a poor man’s Adam Jones. He’s not the prospect Jones was, but he could end up being a really nice player.

Talent evaluators are split on his ultimate ceiling. Some describe him as a bona fide stud, and others leave him off their top 100 lists. I’ve seen him ranked as high as 31st overall (by Baseball Prospectus), which, if accurate, is a terrific main piece in a package for a star rental. 

Most consider Diaz’s main flaw as a prospect to be his in-game power, though anyone watching the 2018 MLB Futures Game would be confused by that, as he became the second player ever to hit multiple home runs in the game. It’s possible that more power develops as he matures, and he certainly wouldn’t be the first player to hit for more power once reaching the Majors, but for now, it’s not a strength. I wouldn’t expect him to top 20 home runs in most seasons.

His bat-to-ball ability is his clearest strength, as he projects to consistently hit for a high average. His batting eye, while formerly a weakness, has become a strength in 2018, as he’s actually walked more times than he’s struck out (a rarity in this day and age). That will play well with O’s fans who are tired of seeing their players challenge strikeout records.

Dean Kremer, RHP, 22

Kremer isn’t a major name, which is a disappointment for O’s fans and one of the reasons their haul felt so uninspiring. Compared to more highly-touted prospects like Dustin May, Kremer looks like the team settled.

That said, he’s currently sporting the best K/9 ratio in the minors, and could end up being a diamond in the rough. He’s come a long way since being a 14th-round pick two years ago, and you have to wonder if the Orioles’ much-maligned pitching development can pick up where the much more successful Dodgers instructors left off.

Kremer is also notable for being the first Israeli-born player ever drafted in Major League Baseball.

Rylan Bannon, IF, 22

Bannon was an 8th-rounder last year and is having somewhat of a breakout this season. He’s leading the league in home runs, though playing in a notorious band box of a home park is skewing those numbers.

Bannon is undersized, but has a reputation of a good, if not elite, fielder. He’s a third baseman, but will likely spend some time at second as well. If the power breakout is real, he could end up a solid starter for the Orioles down the road. Again, that’s about all you can hope for in trades of this nature.

Zach Pop, RHP, 21

Pop has been described as potentially a future “right-handed Zach Britton,” which every O’s fan would take in a heartbeat. Of course, he’s not ranked like a future All-Star, as even in the weaker Orioles farm system he’s likely no better than around 25th. 

Still, the filler players in big trades like this are just lottery tickets, and considering his lack of pedigree, Pop seems like a relatively “safe” pitcher with projectability. He strikes out a lot of batters and gets a lot of ground balls, and at the very least can likely become a decent middle reliever.

Breyvic Valera, IF, 26

In a best-case scenario, Valera becomes the Orioles’ Ryan Flaherty replacement. If you squint, you can see somewhat decent upside in each of the other returning players, even despite their modest prospect rankings, but Valera is a clear utility player. 

He gets on base and hits for contact well enough to stick around and has proven capable of defending multiple positions, so there actually might be a spot for him at the end of the Orioles bench.

Overall

This trade has been described as anywhere from adequate and somewhat deflating to a great haul O’s fans should be excited about. Four of the five players have decent ceilings, though the chance of all four (or even just two of them) reaching those ceilings is highly unlikely. It’s just the nature of baseball.

Ultimately, this trade will be judged on the success or failure of Yusniel Diaz, who is the clear centerpiece of the package. Whether or not he succeeds will be partially up to him, and partially up to the front office and player development team.

If this trade is the beginning of the core for the next competitive Orioles team, then it’ll have to be considered a success. If these players each bust out of the league, then it was still the correct decision to trade Machado instead of settling for draft pick compensation, but it will still sting all the more for O’s fans seeing Manny soar to new heights elsewhere.

Quick Links

Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

usatsi_10325478.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

Defenseman Madison Bowey re-signed with the Capitals on Thursday, inking a two-year extension that will carry an average of $1 million.

Bowey carried a cap charge of $703,333 last season.

The 23-year-old appeared in 51 games for the Caps in 2017-18, amassing 12 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-3.

Bowey also suited up in nine contests for AHL Hershey, though he finished the season as one of the Black Aces during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup.

With Bowey back in the fold, the Caps now have six of seven defenseman from last season’s roster under contract. (Veteran Brooks Orpik remains an unrestricted free agent.)

Bowey had an uneven first year in the NHL—he didn’t play following the late-February addition of Michal Kempny—but the Caps expect that the 6-2, 198-pound right-shot blue liner will become reliable full-time player with more seasoning.

Bowey’s deal leaves Tom Wilson as the Caps' only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. The sides are in discussions on a multi-year extension.

Including Bowey’s extension, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million in salary cap space remaining, according to www.capfriendly.com.

MORE CAPS NEWS: