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Davis signing keys productive winter, but is it enough?


Davis signing keys productive winter, but is it enough?

On the day after the regular season ended, Dan Duquette reviewed 2015 and looked ahead to 2016.

“We're going to have a good team when we start the season. I don't know who exactly will be on it,” Duquette said.

Looking outside Saturday morning, it’s hard to believe, but in 26 days the Orioles pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota.

Between now and Feb. 18, work will be done, but Duquette and Buck Showalter have a much better idea of who is going to be on their team now than they did on Oct. 5.

At that time, Duquette said that he hoped to sign a couple of the team’s free agents. Many people bet that the couple would be Gerardo Parra and Steve Pearce.

The Orioles didn’t show much interest in either, and Parra went to Colorado for three years and $27 million and Pearce agreed to a one-year contract with Tampa Bay on Thursday.

You may have missed that news because Thursday was when Chris Davis’ new contract was officially announced.

Davis was Peter Angelos’ main priority even though Duquette said at that talk, the club would be looking for pitching.

The biggest loss the Orioles sustained over the winter was Wei-Yin Chen, whose five-year $80 million deal was clearly out of the club’s comfort zone.

A seven-year, $161 million contract seemed out of the team’s comfort zone in October, too, but the team has come to realize that this is a new age in baseball salaries, and if the Orioles are going to compete, and yes, make their fan base happy, they’re going to pay a huge price to keep their stars.

In between getting another starting pitcher and a right fielder, the Orioles may try and negotiate an extension for Manny Machado, who will be impressed by the size of the Davis deal.
Showalter, who has been key, in convincing Angelos that the Orioles needed to change their philosophy on free agents, has some big decisions to make.

Unless the team signs a right fielder who’s a no-brainer choice as a leadoff hitter, Showalter will have a hard choice about who to lead off with.

While he’d prefer to have Machado lower in the lineup, there might be a lot of pressure on Hyun Soo Kim, the South Korean the team signed to play left. Kim was an on-base machine in Korea, but he hasn’t played in the U.S., and he’s a mite heavy for a leadoff man.

Duquette seemed to back away from Yovani Gallardo in a radio interview on Friday, saying that the team doesn’t want to surrender its top draft choice for signing him.

Everyone around the Orioles knows this year’s draft will be key. The 14th pick will be the team’s highest in four years, and it gets extra picks in the early rounds for losing Chen, the failure to sign second round pick Jonathan Hughes and a competitive balance pick.

Gallardo is the only top shelf pitcher remaining, and assuming he signs elsewhere, the team can concentrate on Doug Fister, Mat Latos and some others.

“There are some pitchers out there we like, and we’ve also talked to some other teams about pitching,” Duquette said on Thursday night.

“The problem in the pitching market is that there are more teams chasing fewer pitchers. There are not enough to go around. That is an-age problem, but it was very acute this winter.”

The Orioles have had a productive off-season. They brought back Matt Wieters for another season for the $15.8 million qualifying offer, added another power hitter, Mark Trumbo for 2016 at minimal cost, and re-signed Davis and Darren O’Day.

They also signed a number of their key arbitration-eligible players including Machado, Trumbo and Chris Tillman without rancor leaving only Zach Britton and Brian Matusz unsigned.

It would seem unlikely that either Britton or Matusz go the arbitration route.

But, through all these accomplishments, and they are impressive, many are still skeptical about the team.

The bullpen should be strong, and so should the defense. The starters must pitch better than they did last year, and if that’s the case, maybe there’s a chance in 2016.

Duquette said he wasn’t shocked that half of the team’s free agents are returning in 2016.

“I know that the players that are returning here enjoy playing her. You heard Chris talk about the atmosphere that Buck has created and the way fans welcome them into the community in Baltimore and how the players contributed to the community,” Duquette said.

“All that is good and hard to find. This is a great baseball town. The fans love the players. It didn’t surprise me and we have something that we can build on here.”

MORE ORIOLES: Is it time for Orioles to forget Gallardo?

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

Buck Showalter has been fired as manager of the Orioles, who made three playoff appearances under his guidance but this year staggered through the worst season since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Showalter confirmed the dismissal Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

A three-time AL Manager of the Year, Showalter ranks second on the Orioles' career list with 669 victories, trailing Earl Weaver. He took over in August 2010 and orchestrated the resurgence of a team that suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

Once hailed for making baseball in Baltimore relevant again, the 62-year-old Showalter is out of a job after a season in which the Orioles finished 47-115, 61 games behind Boston in the AL East. His contract expired at the end of October, and the Orioles opted against a renewal as they continue a major rebuild that began in late July, when they traded stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman for minor league prospects.

Those deals were made by Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, whose future with the organization is up in the air.

Showalter earned AL Manager of the Year honors in 2014 after taking the Orioles to the AL East title and a berth in the Championship Series. He was also named Manager of Year with the Yankees in 1994 and Texas in 2004. His career record is 1,551-1,517, including 669-684 with Baltimore.

"I just think ever since he came here, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said before the final game of the season. "It's the end of an era. A great manager, a great tenure. I don't know if he's going to coach or manage again, but he's got grandchildren. Go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course."

With his future in doubt, Showalter appeared undaunted during the final series of the regular season.

"You know how good they've been to me? I'm not ever going to forget that, regardless of what happens," he said.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin was asked before his team's playoff game against the Yankees on Wednesday night whether Showalter was victimized by the trend toward analytics.

"I don't think Buck was a guy that ignored analytics," Melvin said. "I think it was probably a combination of how they did this year and maybe some relationships."

After the Orioles brought Showalter out of retirement, he offered renewed hope by fashioning a 34-23 finish in 2010 for a team that was 32-73 upon his arrival.

Baltimore ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012, advancing to the AL Division Series following a victory over Texas in the wild-card game. Playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016 followed.

Last year, however, the Orioles fell to 75-87 after losing 19 of their final 23 games. Baltimore hoped the addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner would enable the team to be a contender this year, but a horrid start quickly dispelled that notion.

The Orioles' deficit in the AL East reached double digits by April 18 and they were 8-27 on May 8. By the end of July, Baltimore fully entered rebuilding mode, leaving Showalter with the dubious distinction of overseeing a team that finished with the poorest record in the majors and one that surpassed the 1939 St. Louis Browns for most losses in franchise history.

Showalter never offered an excuse. He just grinded forward, working to prepare the team for 2019 even though he knew he might not be around to follow through.

At the outset of a season-ending series against Houston, Showalter was asked if he was thinking these might be his final days in the Baltimore dugout.

"We all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don't think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now," he said. "We've got some things to do these last four games that need to get done."

Showalter has a reputation as a no-nonsense manager, but his players appreciated his baseball knowledge and skill at handling a team. He made a point of talking to each of them on a regular basis, almost always offering encouragement.

"He gave me a chance," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who played six-plus years in the minors before arriving in Baltimore. "He believed in me in 2014, ran me out there and gave me a chance to be part of a championship team. He's really vouched for me ever since. I owe a lot to Buck and his loyalty. He's been a main figure here for a long time."

Sensing the end was near for the only big league manager he had ever played for, first baseman Trey Mancini said: "It's been an absolute honor to play for Buck. He's been incredible."

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory on Monday night, clinching home-field advantage through the postseason by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Orioles batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and mostly likely Oakland.

The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (45-111) became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60 games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It's the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.

Boston scored four in the second inning, getting back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Brock Holt, an RBI single from Christian Vazquez and Betts' two-run homer over the Green Monster. It was the 32nd homer of the season for Betts, a new career high.

Betts also singled and scored in Boston's two-run fourth, moving him into the major-league lead with 125 runs scored. In his last three games, he is 10 for 16 with three homers and four doubles, and he leads teammate J.D. Martinez (.328) in the AL batting race.

Renato Nunez had three hits for the Orioles, who fell to 2-15 against Boston and 18-61 on the road this season.


Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.


Orioles: RHP Yefrey Ramirez is scheduled to start on Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give him an extra day or two. "I think Yefrey will pitch again, I just don't know when," Showalter said.

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during a swing and leaving Sunday night's game. ... INF Eduardo Nunez ran on Sunday to test his hamstring and was scheduled to run again on Monday with the goal of having him back in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday.


LHP David Price (15-7) tries to bounce back from a rough start in Yankee Stadium in the second game of the series in what could be his last start of the regular season.