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Five things the Orioles need to do at the winter meetings

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Five things the Orioles need to do at the winter meetings

The annual baseball winter meetings begin next Monday in Nashville, Tenn. Last year’s gathering, Dan Duquette’s first in charge, was a relative non-event for the Orioles.

On the final day of last year’s meetings, Duquette made a minor trade to acquire pitcher Dana Eveland and picked up Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5 Draft. That’s it.

Let’s look at five things the Orioles may accomplish during the winter meetings.

1) Find a first baseman

If the Orioles choose not to tender a contract to Mark Reynolds, making him a free agent, they should negotiate aggressively to try and get a deal done for him—or for someone else.

The Orioles enter the winter meetings with catcher, shortstop, third base, right and center field solidified. If they sign Reynolds, life is much simpler.

If they don’t sign Reynolds, they’ll have to see if they want Chris Davis playing there or sign a designated hitter.

One name that’s been thrown around is Kansas City’s Billy Butler. One of the few nearly exclusive designated hitters, Butler could allow Davis to play first base.

He averages 20 home runs, 91 RBIs and a .300 average each season. At 26, he’s signed for two years at $8 million with a $12.5 million option for 2015.

2) Get a veteran innings eater

The Orioles hope that Jason Hammel will fill this role, but last year, he missed nearly all of the second half after knee surgery.

It’s hard to imagine the team contending again with just one pitcher who has 10 or more wins. In 2011, they had two pitchers with 10 or more and won 24 games fewer than last season.

Joe Saunders would be an ideal addition to bolster the staff, but he’s apparently attracting interest elsewhere.

Scott Feldman, let go by Texas, has signed with the Chicago Cubs. His $6 million-plus incentives price tag was out of Duquette’s range.

There are several younger pitchers, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Tommy Hunter, who might be dealt, but they also may hold on to them for depth in case a veteran isn’t signed.

3) Get some infield depth

The Orioles aren’t expected to re-sign Omar Quintanilla. If he goes, three of the five second basemen last year will be gone: Steve Tolleson and Robert Andino have already found new homes.

Alexi Casilla hasn’t played every day, and it’s overly optimistic to expect Brian Roberts to play second base. Ryan Flaherty must exhibit some strong growth to make the club again.

Wilson Betemit is on hand, but he’s played little second base. He’s more of a stopgap at first and third.

If J.J. Hardy or Manny Machado is hurt, a capable utility infielder should e added.

4) Sort out left field

The Orioles hope that Nolan Reimold will be at full strength. In the first few weeks of the season, Reimold showed to be a capable leadoff man. But, that’s all he played.

If he’s healthy, the Orioles hope he’ll again be a regular, but he still hasn’t played a full season in the majors.

Trayvon Robinson, acquired last week from Seattle for Andino, could be an extra outfielder. So could Xavier Avery, Lew Ford, L.J. Hoes or Nate McLouth, if he’s signed again.

One of the outfielders the Orioles looked at in the market, Jonny Gomes, signed at a price far beyond what the team was willing to pay. If McLouth’s price is reasonable, he could re-sign. If not, perhaps they’ll wait until January or early February and pick up a bargain or two.

5) Decide on a new third base coach

The Orioles have a short list of candidates for third base coach, which now includes Rich Dauer, who was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame last year. Dauer played second base for the Orioles from 1976-85. Dauer was recently let go in Colorado.

Steve Smith is another candidate. Smith was Buck Showalter’s third-base coach in Texas, and worked for Manny Acta in Cleveland the last three years.

Bobby Dickerson and Brian Graham are two of the in-house candidates. For one season, Graham was a non-uniformed coach with the Orioles. Dickerson has a long organizational history.

Last year, the Orioles finalized their coaching staff at the winter meetings.

NOTE: The Philadelphia Phillies signed former Orioles minor league pitcher Brandon Erbe to a minor league contract on Monday. 

 

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Nick Markakis makes All-Star debut after 12 1/2 seasons

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@EddieInTheYard Twitter

Nick Markakis makes All-Star debut after 12 1/2 seasons

Beloved former Oriole Nick Markakis is finally being recognized as an All-Star this week in Washington, D.C. at the 89th Midsummer Classic. 

The 34-year-old right fielder waited 12 1/2 Major League Baseball seasons for his name to be called. 

Markakis, who is on his way to having the best season of his career, is batting .323 and leading the NL with 120 hits. He received the most votes of any NL outfielder in fan voting.

A 22-year-old Markakis first arrived in the Orioles clubhouse in 2006 when the average age of the rest of the Orioles’ starting lineup was 32. The now 34-year-old finds himself as one of the oldest on a Braves team that is 10 games above .500 at the halfway point of the season and only 1/2 game back from the first-place Phillies.  

MLB announced Tuesday night's starting lineups, which features Markakis batting 7th and playing right field for the National League. 

Catch Markakis and the rest of the field in Tuesday night's All-Star Game at 8 p.m. on FOX. 

For all Orioles-related content, follow along on Twitter

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.

STREAKY

Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.

UP NEXT

Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.