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Orioles selling contention, not opportunity this time

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Orioles selling contention, not opportunity this time

The biggest news is baseball this week was the Florida-Toronto megadeal. Since the Blue Jays are in the same division as the Orioles, it’s natural that Baltimore fans got a little nervous when five players—three of them front line—were sent to Toronto.

The Blue Jays have seemingly been stuck on a treadmill for nearly 20 years, never good enough to contend, but never bad enough to draft a difference maker.

Toronto’s last star picked in the draft was Roy Halladay, and that was 17 years ago. There have been some decent players taken in the first round since: Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia, but no Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, Manny Machado or Dylan Bundy.

Free agents rarely want to play in Toronto and players with no-limited no-trade clauses routinely have the Blue Jays in the no-way category.

That’s why the Orioles still have the advantage over Toronto. They have a core of players: Markakis, Wieters, Machado, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones who are under team control for at least the next two seasons. They were either drafted or acquired in smart trades.

The Orioles are highly unlikely to make a huge deal like the Blue Jays did. They don’t have enough holes to fill.

Twice in their history, the Orioles made large deals, both with the Yankees. At the end of their first season in Baltimore, after they’d gone 54-100, the teams made an astounding 17-player trade.

In June 1976, the first year of free agency, one of the best trades in team history the Yankees and Orioles traded 10 players. Baltimore acquired Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez and Scott McGregor, players who would be essential to their 1979 and 1983 success.

Since then, most deals have smaller. Jones was acquired with five others, including Chris Tillman and George Sherrill from Seattle in 2008. Hardy was picked up for two lesser players.

While others may have belittled Andy MacPhail’s incremental approach, combine his way with Dan Duquette’s undervalued and undiscovered approach, and you have a 2012 season.

Next year will be quite a challenge. Not only will the Orioles be playing with heightened expectations. The temptation is natural to think that they can simply add a piece or two and then advance to the World Series.

Key players must perform as well or better than they did in 2012. Inadequacies must be addressed earlier, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette must give manager Buck Showalter lots of options and trust that they’ll be used wisely.

A year ago, the Orioles sold opportunity to prospective free agents. Other than at a few spots, that is no longer the case. This is a much better, much deeper club than last year.

This year, the Orioles will be selling playoffs to those free agents. The Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox can play the opportunity hand this time.

NOTE:

-Orioles’ FanFest will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center on Saturday Jan. 19.

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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

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USA TODAY Sports

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."

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