Orioles

Quick Links

Could Jim Johnson win the Cy Young?

746246.png

Could Jim Johnson win the Cy Young?

Saturday night was just another Jim Johnson save. There have been 36 of them this season. Johnson is now tied for third on the Orioles single-season save list. His next one will tie him with Gregg Olson for second place with 37.Only Randy Myers with 45 in 1997 has more.With the season third-quarters complete, Johnson has a good chance to eclipse Myers mark. Hes been the Orioles closer for a year. It was on August 14, 2011 that he bailed out an ineffective Kevin Gregg against the Tigers. Since then, Johnsons been the man.Johnson converted his first 17 saves opportunities this season. He blew the 18th, but recorded the win. His second blown save on July 14, was also an Orioles win.Only once, on July 27, has a Johnson blown save resulted in an Orioles lost. That was the only game this season the Orioles have lost when leading after eight. His 3.20 ERA isnt all that impressive, but 11 of the 18 runs Johnson has allowed come from two horrid outings. In the July 27 game, Johnson gave up six runs in one-third of an inning and in a July 16 blowout, he allowed five runs in one-third. Take away those two appearances, and Johnsons ERA is 1.26.As impressive as Johnsons year has been, is it good enough to be award-winning? Recently, a colleague suggested that Johnson and not Adam Jones be considered for the Most Valuable Oriole Award.Thats certainly a credible argument, but how about Johnson as a Cy Young candidate?A reliever hasnt won the Cy Young Award in 20 years. Oaklands Dennis Eckersley was the last to do it in 1992 when he was 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 51 saves. Eckersley also took home the MVP Award.Detroits Willie Hernandez (1984) and Oaklands Rollie Fingers (1991) also both awards as relievers. The only other AL reliever to win the Cy Young was the Yankees Sparky Lyle in 1977.Johnsons competition comes from both starters and relievers. Tampa Bays Fernando Rodney enters Sunday with 38 saves in 40 opportunities compared with Johnsons 36 in 39. Rodneys ERA is a sparkling 0.79. Hes allowed just five earned runs.Rodney has struck out 55 and walked just nine and given up only two home runs. Johnson has struck out 28, walked 12 and allowed three homers.However, Rodney has worked in 58 games and thrown 56 23 innings. Johnson has worked in 52 and pitched 50 23. Rodney and his teammate Joel Peralta are tied with New Yorks Boone Logan for most appearances.With the luxury of a deep bullpen, manager Buck Showalter has been able to not overuse Johnson. None of the Orioles relievers are among the league leaders in appearances, something Showalter is proud of.For him to be considered as a Cy Young candidate, Johnson must continue to pitch well and the Orioles need to contend. If Rodney has a few bad outings and the Rays falter, perhaps Johnson can get some votes.There are also several starters in the mix. Tampa Bays David Price is the current favorite with a 16-4 record and a league-leading 2.39 ERA. Jered Weaver is 15-3 and a 2.74 ERA and Chicagos Chris Sale is 14-4 with a 2.72 ERA. Felix Hernandez, who won the award two years ago is 11-5 with a 2.60 ERA on a team thats seven games below .500.Johnson can hope to best Myers 1997 season. Not only did he have a club record 45 saves, but he blew only save chance. Myers finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting, behind three 20-game winners. Myers also finished fourth in the MVP voting. Myers also had two postseason saves.He left the Orioles after the 1997 season, and his career ended a year later.Despite the unlikelihood of Johnson winning the Cy Young, the Orioles can rejoice. Johnsons just 29, and cant be a free agent until 2015. While its risky to sign closers to long-term contracts and the Orioles have Pedro Strop on hand, they may consider a multi-year deal in the offseason.Johnson lives near the Orioles spring training headquarters in Sarasota, Fla., and is a low maintenance closer. Showalter wont pitch him four days in a row, even if Johnson wants to.If the Orioles get to the postseason, Johnson is likely to be a great asset and he could benefit from a schedule that allows for more rest.There was talk last winter that the Orioles would convert Johnson to a starter. Theres none of that talk now.

Quick Links

Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado traded to Los Angeles Dodgers

usatsi_10040590.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado traded to Los Angeles Dodgers

"It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

"What we've got here is failure to communicate."

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

I can't decide which quote best applies today. No, it didn't take a "Godfather" offer to pry Manny Machado away from the Orioles. Everyone and their mother knew this day was coming. Machado, he of the .315 batting average, 24 home runs and 65 RBIs, was too big a fish to swim in a last-place pond on the final year of his contract.

Still, the front office in Baltimore knew they had to get this one right, so they held out as long as you could. Depending on who you ask, you might hear that they waited this long to allow Machado to represent the O's in the 2018 MLB All-Star Game as their lone player. I'm sure that was a nice bonus, but the truth is that waiting this long allowed them to net the greatest possible return.

With every twist and turn in the story, new leaders in the sweepstakes emerged and more and more (and better) prospects were added to team's offers. The Yankees wanted to create the most fearsome lineup since the '27 Murderer's Row. The Brewers wanted to show they were aggressive, much like their acquisition of CC Sabathia exactly a decade ago. The Phillies needed to replace the struggling J.P. Crawford at short. The Braves wanted to legitimize their division title chances. The Indians wanted to form the greatest infield in recent memory. The Cubs aren't afraid to turn a strength into a super strength.

Philadelphia was the favorite, until they weren't.

In the end, it was the Dodgers, looking to replace their own injured star shortstop, who made the offer which couldn't be refused.

Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Rylan Bannon Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera are headed to Baltimore in exchange for Machado and no additional cash, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. 

The Dodgers were one of the best matches with the O's in terms of prospects. Los Angeles is adept at identifying and developing talent, meaning their farm system has a wealth of talent to draw from. Their fourth-best prospect would be number one or two on many team's lists, so the Orioles were able to extract more value without the Dodgers feeling like they were giving up too much for a rental.

Many fans who think the O's would have to basically give Machado away want to remind you that he is just that; a rental. This brought his value down, though it's arguable how much. Machado isn't your average three-month player. He is a generational defender at third base and a passable defender at shortstop, all while providing a middle of the order bat. If we were ranking players on pure talent level alone, Machado would likely be in the top three in all of baseball, and at age 26 he's only now entering his prime. This is a quality of "rental" rarely, if ever, seen in baseball history.

The Dodgers didn't make this move for the next three months (though it can't be overstated how important it's become to win your division ever since the advent of the Wild Card Game and they are locked in a tight battle atop the NL West). They made this move for October.

The National League has many quality teams, but with no super teams in the ilk of the Red Sox or Astros, a move like this can serve to separate them from the pack. Los Angeles is now probably, at worst, tied with the Cubs as the prohibitive favorites to return to the Fall Classic.

For better or worse, this trade will likely come to define the next decade of Orioles baseball. They needed to nail the prospects they got back, and if nothing else, they should be commended for handling this professionally over the last few weeks. This is a quality package, representing a much-needed infusion of talent into their barren farm system.

It doesn't excuse the previous three years, in which they bungled the situation so badly they somehow managed to go 1,000 days without even talking to their most accomplished player in a generation about a potential contract extension. It's been a laughable, unacceptable, truly embarrassing failure to communicate between a decision maker and his best player.

The one silver lining to the Orioles finding themselves on a historic pace to have one of the worst seasons in Major League Baseball history is that the decision to trade Machado and officially kick off the long rebuilding process was an easy one. In previous seasons, during which the front office could have received much greater value in return for one of their stars, the team has inexplicably been unable to evaluate their own postseason chances and chosen to be buyers when they should have been sellers. 

69 losses at the All-Star break is a clear message that the roster needs a reboot, and it allowed the team to not hesitate in jettisoning their most talented player in decades. The fact that the team has been bad since Opening Day has given fans plenty of time to resign themselves to this move, and hopefully they can focus on the excitement of adding a fun, talented young core, instead of the sorrow of losing a beloved figure on your favorite team. 

In the coming years, as the team fights for the top spot in the draft and finds themselves looking up at the hated Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East, hopefully they can look back on some of Manny's greatest hits in Baltimore and appreciate what they had in the superstar from Miami.

After all, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

Quick Links

Manny Machado trade rumors are dominating headlines at All-Star Game

machado.os_.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Manny Machado trade rumors are dominating headlines at All-Star Game

Manny Machado could very well be playing in his final game in an Orioles uniform Tuesday night when he takes the field for the 89th Midsummer Classic at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. 

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Dodgers are now in the driver's seat as a favorite to land the All-Star shortstop. 

Machado, 26, has gone back and forth on what he does and does not know as front office deals develop and speculation continues to grow. One thing he has made clear is that the rumors have not detracted from his enjoyment of being an All-Star.

Machado is signed through the end of the season, but the Orioles intend to deal him before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

For the latest news and conversation surrounding Machado's status and the Orioles, follow along on Twitter

RELATED LINKS: 

2018 MLB All-Star Guide 

Bryce Harper reflects on his baseball career 

Best and worst ASG uniforms