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Does Happ contract change Orioles' plans?

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Does Happ contract change Orioles' plans?

J.A. Happ picked the right time to get hot. After the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him at the trading deadline, Happ went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA.

In five of those starts, Happ pitched six or more shutout innings and allowed four or fewer hits.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Toronto Blue Jays, for whom he pitched from 2012-14, signed him to a three-year, $36 million contract.

Happ’s hot streak enabled him to lift his career record over .500. He’s 62-61 with a 4.13 ERA.

The 33-year-old had been linked this offseason to the Orioles, and in 2012, the Houston Astros discussed trading him to Baltimore. The Astros liked the seven-player package the Blue Jays offered much better than what the Orioles had.

MORE ORIOLES: ORIOLES LOOKING FOR OUTFIELDERS

Fans shouldn’t be shocked by this contract. It’s what the market has dictated, and pitchers the Orioles could be interested in such as Yovani Gallardo, Scott Kazmir, John Lackey and Jeff Samardzija, will sign for that much—and probably more.

The Orioles payroll—including the four players signed for next year—J.J. Hardy, Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, estimations for arbitration eligible players as well as those not yet eligible—is estimated at about $100 million.

That means that if the Orioles want to pay Chris Davis $20-$25 million a year, which is what it’s going to cost to keep him, they can sign a pitcher from the list above—and then very little else.

I’m not sure the budget Dan Duquette is working under, but I would be surprised if it were higher than $130-$140 million.

If the Orioles are serious about Davis, and they are—and they have been, they know their payroll is going to rise substantially. Last year, it was nearly $120 million, which is in the middle of major league payrolls.

Had they not extended a qualifying offer to Wieters, and they should have, they could have used that money to try and sign Davis, a pitcher, and perhaps a quality outfielder, say Alex Gordon.

Now, it’s likely sign two of the three.

Happ was the first big name free agent to sign. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Darren O’Day sign soon.

The real fun comes when the mega-stars of this class, David Price, who Happ is apparently replacing in the Blue Jays rotation, Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmermann sign.

Two weeks from today, the Orioles are holding their FanFest, and while they’d like to have a big name signee to trot out, it could be hard to have Davis—or someone else signed by then.

Duquette often does his best free agent work late in the process, and I don’t know if he feels any pressure to get something done more quickly than usual to assuage a restive fan base.

Davis’ agent, Scott Boras, often likes to let a market build, and the Orioles may not be able to afford to wait on him. The market for other free agent first baseman is slim.

Five of the other 14 first baseman listed by MLBTradeRumors.com have already played for the Orioles: Travis Ishikawa, Kelly Johnson, Chris Parmelee, Steve Pearce and Mark Reynolds.

I don’t think fans would be excited about any of them replacing Davis, although re-signing Pearce is certainly not out of the question.

Jeff Baker, Corey Hart, Garrett Jones, Justin Morneau and Mike Napoli are some of the other names on the list.

Once upon a time, Morneau was a star, the American League Most Valuable Player. But that was in 2006, and last year played just 49 games for Colorado.

While Morneau wouldn’t be a bad one-year flyer, he’s hardly the long-term solution at first.

The Orioles have Trey Mancini, who was the Eastern League’s MVP at Bowie, but he hasn’t played above Double-A. They also have Christian Walker, but he’s had only a handful of major league at-bats.

This week, the Orioles signed South Korean Ji-Man Choi, but that was to a minor league contract, and he’s never played in the majors, either.

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

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Trumbo homers twice, drives in 5 as Orioles beat Rangers 9-6

 Mark Trumbo could have looked around the diamond at his Orioles teammates and wondered, "Who are these guys?"

With veterans Adam Jones and Chris Davis out of the starting lineup, Trumbo alone represented experience on a young, struggling team.

The slugger homered twice and drove in five runs, and Baltimore beat the Texas Rangers 9-6 in a back-and-forth game Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"There's a few of us guys that have been around a little longer than most," Trumbo said. "The production comes and goes, but the mindset is the big thing, and I think these guys are doing a good job."

Entering the series, Trumbo hadn't gone deep since July 9. He completed the four games 7 for 16 with three homers and nine RBIs as Baltimore totaled 21 runs.

Austin Wynns and Jonathan Villar also homered for the Orioles.

Trumbo singled home a run in the first inning. His two-run homer in the third put Baltimore ahead to stay at 6-5 against starter Drew Hutchison (1-2), who was making his Rangers debut.

"Just pitch execution, poor command, too many balls up in the zone," Hutchison said. "When you do things like that, those are the results that you're going to have."

Both of Trumbo's homers came with two strikes.

"I've been getting to two strikes a lot lately and still getting some hits," he said. "I hit a changeup (from Hutchison), and I put some good wood on it."

The teams had scored in every half-inning before that, with the lead changing hands in four of those.

Trumbo left the game after his two-run homer against Matt Moore in the seventh.

"(Trumbo) almost didn't play today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "His knee's been a little sore. I noticed running around the bases on the second home run."

Another difference was Baltimore's beleaguered bullpen, which allowed only one run and one hit in 7 1/3 innings.

Tanner Scott (2-2), the second of six Orioles pitchers, shut out Texas for 2 1/3 innings, which tied his longest major league outing. He relieved starter Yefry Ramirez with the bases loaded and two outs in the second and struck out Ronald Guzman.

Mychal Givens retired the final four batters for his second save.

Jace Peterson led off the game with a single and scored on Trumbo's single for a short-lived 1-0 lead.

Ramirez retired the first two Rangers hitters but gave up a triple to Elvis Andrus. After two walks loaded the bases, Robinson Chirinos singled home two runs.

The Orioles regained the lead at 4-2 in the second on a three-run homer by Wynns, the No. 9 batter.

The Rangers scored three runs in the bottom half on Shin-Soo Choo's sacrifice fly, Andrus' groundout and a broken-bat single by Joey Gallo for a 5-4 advantage.

Gallo and Rougned Odor homered in each of the first three games of the series, but their streaks were stopped on Sunday.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Davis didn't play for a second straight game. Showalter said, "He's banged up a little bit. We're going to give him the benefit of another day and the off day Monday." ... Showalter said it's likely that OF Craig Gentry, who has missed six weeks because of a fractured rib, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Bowie. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (strained left oblique), who hasn't played since July 1, could go on a rehab assignment Thursday.

UP AND DOWN AGAIN

To make room for Hutchison on the roster, the Rangers optioned RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx to Triple-A Round Rock for the third time this season.

JUST KEEP HITTING

Andrus extended his hitting streak to 16 games, equaling a career best. It's also the longest current run in the majors.

UP NEXT

Orioles: Begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Alex Cobb (3-14, 5.83 ERA) will start against Rays newcomer Tyler Glasnow (1-2, 4.27).

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 6.50) pitches Monday as Texas hosts Seattle and LHP Wade LeBlanc (6-2, 3.95) to begin a three-game series.

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

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Adam Jones helps Little League team with $8.5K donation

Adam Jones continues to be one of baseball's Good Dudes. 

Jones, who's been recognized before for his philanthropic efforts around Baltimore, made headlines recently when he donated $8.5 thousand dollars to the Mamie Johnson Little League team. 

Mamie Johnson are headed to the Mid-Atlantic Finals of the Little League World Series qualifying tournament but needed $10k in travel assistance to get there. That's where Jones, who orginally learned of the team on Twitter, stepped in: 

When asked about his donation, Jones said, "I want to see the next generation get an opportunity to succeed. Me being a black man trying to integrate more African-Americans into baseball, this was a no-brainer.''

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