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Five things Orioles need to improve on in 2013


Five things Orioles need to improve on in 2013

Even though the Orioles had 93 wins and made the postseason, there are still some things the team could improve on.

Here are five ways the Orioles can improve in 2013:

1) Increase on-base percentage

When Dan Duquette took over nearly a year ago as the team’s top baseball official, he vowed that the Orioles had to boost its on-base percentage. He wasn’t satisfied with a .316 on-base average.

Presumably, he’ll not be satisfied with a .311 on-base percentage, five points lower than the 2011 team that lost 93 games.

Four of the team’s regulars: Adam Jones, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado each had more than three times as many strikeouts as walks. 

Mark Reynolds, whose ability to draw walks is often overlooked, batted .221, but had a .335 on-base percentage, a point higher than Jones, who batted .287.

A full season of Nick Markakis will presumably help. Markakis missed 58 games, and his on-base percentage was a robust .363, 65 points higher than his batting average.

2) Get a set starting rotation

The Orioles had just one pitcher with more than 10 wins, Wei-Yin Chen. He had 12. Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman had each had nine and Jason Hammel had eight.

Of the remaining postseason teams, the Giants’ five starters each had 10 or more wins, the Cardinals, Tigers and Yankees all had four double-digit winners.

Manager Buck Showalter had a fairly stable starting rotation for the first half of the season, but ineffectiveness and Hammel’s knee injury changed that. Tillman and Gonzalez helped enormously.

Perhaps a rotation of Chen, Hammel, Gonzalez, Tillman and Joe Saunders, if he re-signs could be strong.

If Saunders isn’t big, there will be several in-house candidates for the fifth starter: Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter and Steve Johnson.

Dylan Bundy’s recall would probably come in June.

3) Steal some bases

The Orioles were last in the major leagues with 58 stolen bases, and it’s not a stat Showalter was concerned with.

Jones led the team with stolen bases. He had 16, but was thrown out seven times. Jones trained with Detroit’s Quintin Berry, who was 21-for-21 in stolen bases during the regular season. Perhaps he’ll make  that a point of emphasis this winter.

Nate McLouth had 12 stolen bases in 55 games. He was only thrown out once.

Xavier Avery stole six in 32 games. Those three combined for 34 of the 58 steals. 

4) Continue to work on defense

When Machado came up to play third, McLouth moved to left and Reynolds moved to first base, the defense solidified. Errors dropped.

The Orioles knew they couldn’t win with Wilson Betemit playing third. Coincidentally, Betemit was hurt a few days after Machado came to the team.

A return by McLouth to left field would help enormously.

5) Get some youth on the bench

When there were injuries, the Orioles lack of depth in the minors was exposed. The team signed lots of one-time stars to play at Norfolk. Besides McLouth, Miguel Tejada, Bill Hall, Jamie Moyer and Lew Ford were all reclamation projects.

While McLouth was huge, Tejada and Moyer quickly left the organization. Hall played briefly with team and Ford showed only occasional pop.

Avery and L.J. Hoes are the top outfield position prospects, but the Orioles preferred experience last year.

At Duquette’s introductory news conference last year, he emphasized that shoring up the minor leagues was vital. It will take some time before there are enough viable candidates in the minors to augment the major league team.

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 


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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense


David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."