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Orioles face interesting dilemma with Caleb Joseph

Orioles face interesting dilemma with Caleb Joseph

In 2015, Caleb Joseph had the fourth most RBIs on the Orioles. A year later, he had the least. 

By now, everyone knows that Joseph had a horrible offensive season with not a single RBI. 

With Matt Wieters returning to his fulltime role, a drop in Joseph’s offensive production was to be expected. He wasn’t going to play 100 games as he did in 2015—with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs. 

But, Joseph who played in 49 games, didn’t show any offense at all.

His defense wasn’t awful and still threw out 31 percent of the runners attempting to steal, and seven of those 22 successful steals came in Ubaldo Jimenez’s first four starts of the season. 

Joseph’s season was marred by the scary testicular injury he suffered on May 30, when he actually finished the game after he was injured in the eighth inning.

Joseph missed a month because of the injury, but his offense never returned. 

Before the injury, Joseph was still hurting offensively, going 66 at-bats without an RBI. He had 66 more at-bats after coming back on July 3 without an RBI. 

His only sustained playing time came when he played six consecutive games in mid-July when Matt Wieters injured a foot, and had three straight two-hit games, but no RBIs. 

Once Wieters came back, Joseph hardly played, and was sent down to Norfolk for 10 days in late August to help him regain his batting eye. 

Joseph was recalled when the rosters were expanded, but in the final weeks of the season, started just six times, going 1-for-18. 

A year ago when it looked as if Wieters was going to leave as a free agent, Joseph would have been a consideration as the No. 1 catcher. 

His defense was good, his offense wasn’t bad, and he seemed to have a good rapport with the pitchers. 

The point became moot when Wieters surprisingly accepted a $15.8 million qualifying offer and Joseph happily welcomed him back even though he knew his playing time would be cut drastically. 

A year later, the situation is even murkier. 

It’s not certain that the Orioles will offer Wieters a qualifying offer of $17.2 million. There’s been some talk that in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement teams won’t be able to proffer qualifying offers in consecutive years. With perhaps two weeks left in the postseason, it’s looking unlikely that a new CBA will be completed and ratified by the players and owners by then. 

The Orioles should give Wieters a qualifying offer. He had a good enough season to merit it, and they shouldn’t let him leave without getting a compensatory draft choice in return. 

Wieters is arguably the most attractive catcher on the free agent market with Washington’s Wilson Ramos out for at least the early part of next season following his Friday knee surgery. 

Many clubs are interested in Wieters, and the Orioles should protect themselves with a qualifying offer. 

The Orioles can’t enter 2017 with Joseph as their No. 1 catcher. While they’re confident his offense will return, his drop was so drastic that they shouldn’t be assured it will return next year. 

But, he’s certainly good enough defensively to be a backup catcher, and while there’s been some talk about pursuing a placeholder while Chance Sisco gets ready, Wieters is still the best choice for 2017—and perhaps beyond. 

Sisco has a terrific on-base percentage of .402 in the minors, and the Orioles certainly want to improve their OBP. However his defense needs a lot of work. At Bowie, he allowed 100 stolen bases in 83 games, throwing out just 25 percent of runners trying to steal.

Colorado’s Nick Hundley has been mentioned as a possibility. He’s a free agent, and he worked well with pitchers, particularly Chris Tillman in 2014 after Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery. 

Hundley doesn’t have a good arm. In 2016, he threw out just 14 percent (9 of 66) runners attempting to steal. 

With the Orioles, Hundley threw out only five of 27 (19 percent), but runners rarely try to steal on Tillman, who’s especially skilled at holding them on base. 

A Hundley-Joseph team for 2017 wouldn’t be bad and room could always be made if the Orioles think Sisco is ready defensively next season. Another year of Wieters-Joseph would be better. 

RELATED: Orioles hoping for Davis rebound in 2017

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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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