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How close are Orioles to having final 25?

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How close are Orioles to having final 25?

How close are the Orioles to having the 25 players they’ll take north? I’d say pretty close.

I’ll pick 24 players that I think will run down the orange carpet on March 31. I’ll cop out on the 25th because I think it will be another starting pitcher who’s not yet signed.

Barring injuries, the top four starters are Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris. Chen had knee surgery right after the season, and his progress will be an intriguing question during spring training.

Kevin Gausman who should be a mainstay in the rotation for some years, will probably start the season at Norfolk.

And, I think the fifth starter will be a player who’s signed between now and the opening of spring training on Feb. 13.

If the Orioles don’t sign another closer, and it’s looking doubtful they will, Tommy Hunter should start the season in Jim Johnson’s old role. He’ll be backed up by Darren O’Day, Ryan Webb and Brian Matusz.

With Troy Patton gone for the first 25 games due to a suspension, I would guess the other three relievers will be Zach Britton, Steve Johnson and Josh Stinson.

Britton would be a second left-hander in addition to Matusz. He’s out of options, and while he could be the fifth starter, Britton could prove his value as a reliever.

Stinson pitched very well in September and could be the most versatile pitcher in the pen. Last year, Johnson had a troubled season due to injuries and ineffectiveness, and he could beat out a host of others for the 12th spot.

If Johnson isn’t the choice, Brad Brach, Kelvin De La Cruz, Edgmer Escalona and Chris Jones could sneak onto the roster.

T.J. McFarland is probably headed to Norfolk where he can start and help the team later on in a variety of roles.

The skirmish for Matt Wieters’ backup will be another interesting spring training storyline. Steve Clevenger seems to have the advantage for now.

Johnny Monell, acquired from the Giants last month, will challenge Clevenger. Both are left-handed hitters. If he doesn’t win the job, Monell and David Freitas, picked up in the Johnson trade from Oakland, could be Norfolk’s catchers.

The infield looks set with Chris Davis, Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado. Once the Orioles didn’t re-sign Brian Roberts or aggressively pursue free agents at second, Flaherty got the advantage at second. It looks as if the Orioles would prefer Jonathan Schoop get more second base experience at Norfolk.

Alexi Casilla’s return gives him the edge for the utility infield job. Casilla plays mostly second and short, and Flaherty could move over to third if Machado isn’t ready to start the season.

That leaves six spots for outfielders and designated hitters. Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and most likely David Lough are the starters in right, center and left.

Delmon Young’s addition as a right-handed DH leaves two openings.

If he’s healthy, Nolan Reimold should get one of them. If he’s not, Steve Pearce would probably slide in to that spot.

Lough is a left-handed hitter, and the Orioles would probably want a second left-hander who could DH. Henry Urrutia is probably the favorite for now.

Urrutia will continue to work on his outfield play, but he’ll be looked on as the DH. The Orioles have a host of other outfield candidates: Francisco Peguero, Quintin Berry, Julio Borbon, Xavier Paul, and perhaps Jack Cust, who’s having an audition at the team’s minicamp in Sarasota today.

Peguero is on the 40-man roster and is a right-handed hitter. The others are not on the 40 and all are left-handers.

The guess is that Urrutia gets the final outfield/DH spot.

Berry could see time in Baltimore during the season, but it’s hard to see manager Buck Showalter wanting to take a pinch-running specialist north.

It’s also hard seeing Rule 5 draft pick Michael Almanzar making the club, especially with Young’s signing.

Even though Jemile Weeks is on the 40-man roster, it’s difficult to see him beating out Casilla for the utility spot.

Before, and even during spring training, other names will pop into the mix.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado took an even larger lead in the latest update for 2018 MLB All-Star Game voting.

The superstar shortstop maintained his position at the top of American League shortstops in the second round of All-Star voting updates, released Tuesday morning. 

After the first ballot was released, Machado led the shortstops category by over 100,00 votes.

This week, he now holds north of a 200,000-vote lead over last year’s American League starter, Carlos Correa.

The Astros’ Correa jumped from fourth to second this past week while the Indians’ Francisco Lindor dropped to third.  

Machado now has 671,133 votes, seventh among all American League players. For the second straight week, Machado remained the only Orioles player on the list.

Through 69 games in 2018, Machado is batting .310 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 53 RBIs. He is posting his best OPS (.945) and on-base percentage (.377) in his career, a bright spot for the O’s, who sit dead last in MLB with a 20-50 record.

The All-Star voting will be open until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and fans can vote five times every 24 hours.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 26.

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