O’s Feldman Leaves for Astros

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(MLB Trade Rumors) 

The Astros have agreed to a three-year, $30MM contract with right-hander Scott Feldman, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports ). It’s been a busy few days for Feldman’s agent, Matt Brown, as he also represents Curtis Granderson, who just agreed to a four-year, $60MM deal with the Mets.

Feldman’s contract represents both a significant raise for the pitcher — he earned $6MM in 2013 — and a significant change in philosophy for the Astros. Houston trimmed payroll in 2013 to the point where Erik Bedard‘s $1.15MM salary made him the only Astro with a salary north of $1MM. By signing Feldman and acquiring Dexter Fowler and his $7.35MM salary earlier this week, the Astros are making good on their promise to fans that they will spend money this offseason.

I will be the first to admit I trust Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter. 100% absolute, complete trust in the rebuild of the Orioles. But, why are we still in rebuild mode? Shouldn’t we be putting the final pieces of the puzzle together to put ourselves in contention? We have the Yankees doing their usual spend, spend, spend (AND the Mariners, ha!), and we’re sitting waiting to pick up middle-tier guys. Newsflash, players want to be paid. In my humble opinion as a long-time suffering Orioles fan… give us the guys we need to win. Spend the money. Keep putting people in the seats and at the bar in center field. Bring people to the Yard to stuff their faces with Boog’s and down it all at Dempsey’s. The only way that’s going to happen, is if we win. The only way we’re going to win, is if we have the players in-place to do so. Feldman wasn’t the guy to take us to the promised land, but it sure seems like we have more holes to fill now than this time last year.

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Mariners sign Cano to 10 year 240mil contract, Bad News for O’s

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With the Mariners overpaying big time for Cano, this means the Yankees now have 40+ million to spend on starting pitching. This likely means they will sign two top starters for 15-20 million each, spiking the the price for pitching. As starters become more valuable as the Yanks sign them to ridiculous contacts, players like Bronson Arroyo and Paul Maholm will look to cash in. My guess is the Yankees sign Ervin Santana or Bartolo Colon to a monster deal and then sign Kuroda to a similar one. They also have their eye on Masahiro Tanaka from Japan who posted ridiculous numbers last year. This leaves the O’s with limited options with all starting pitchers now wanting huge contracts. Further down the list are unreliable pitchers like Jerome Williams(32), Tommy Hanson, Shaun Marcum(31), and Jason Marquis(35). One of these older pitchers may be a target with the market up. Tommy Hanson had some promise but has dealt with injuries his entire career. Roberto Hernandez aka Fausto Carmona before being caught for fake identification so he would be younger is available too.

O’s need to make a move quickly before the Yankees ruin the market, but if I’m a starting pitcher, I’m waiting for the Yankees to make a move and cash in.

Funny thing about the Cano deal, the Mariners will still not make the playoffs. The offense is not very good. The division is stacked(OAK, TEX, LAA, HOU[jokes]). They need to spend around 30 mil on the outfield and pick up another starting pitcher to even have a chance at the playoffs.

Jim Johnson traded to A’s for prospect

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The Athletics have acquired right-hander Jim Johnson from the Orioles for second basemanJemile Weeks, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has confirmed. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sportsfirst reported the deal.

Baltimore was reportedly shopping their closer for salary relief in recent weeks. Johnson, 30, is projected to earn more than $10 million in 2014 according to Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors, so the Orioles are saving a nice chunk of change with the trade.

In 74 games this past season, Johnson managed to lead MLB in both saves (50) and blown saves (nine). He had a 2.94 ERA (143 ERA+) and a 3.11 K/BB in 70 1/3 innings. Johnson also led MLB with 51 saves in 2012 and saves are an easy way to earn a huge salary through arbitration. The sinkerballer is due to become a free agent next winter.

Weeks, 26, hit .303/.340/.421 (110 OPS+) in 97 games as a rookie in 2011 but he has been unable to build on that success. He put up a .221/.305/.304 (73 OPS+) line in 2012 before spending most of 2013 in Triple-A. Rickie’s little brother did manage a .271/.376/.369 line in 130 minor league games this past season.

This move means the Orioles are looking to sign a 10 mil pitcher. This is a great move. Jim Johnson was decent but led the league in blown saves. Paying 10 mil for the league leader in blown saves makes no sense. People are complaining that the Orioles are not getting enough in return. I disagree. Jemile Weeks hit a sophomore slump in 2012 and played in the minors in ’13 after hitting .303 his rookie year in ’11. This is a young, talented prospect who needed a change of scenery. This trade also gives the Orioles a second basemen who is very capable of batting .300, stealing 30 bases, and scoring 100 runs as a #1 / #2 hitter.

Going forward, it looks like the O’s will promote a current player to the closer role. Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day looked impressive at the end of the year and could fill in.

The O’s now have money to spend on a starting pitcher and a left fielder. Bartolo Colon must be asking for a ton if the A’s signed Kazmir the other day, so I would cancel him off the list. I would imagine Kuroda, Santana, Burnett, Garza and Ubaldo are hoping to cash in too. Looking at the recently signed contracts of Kazmir(2y 22mil), Hudson(2y 23mil), Haren(1y 10mil), and Nolasco(4y 49mil), the top tier pitchers will likely be looking for 13mil + because of the Nolasco deal. The O’s will likely not sign the top 5-6 guys available. This leaves the Orioles with options like Bronson Arroyo, Roy Halladay, Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman(resign), Joe Saunders, and a few other veterans. I don’t think any of these guys are worth 10 mil, and I doubt the O’s will move any valuable prospects for a veteran, so they will likely overpay for a Roy Halladay or Joe Saunders unless they are willing to cough up cash and years to Ubaldo or Garza.

There is plenty of talent in the outfield, but once again, the O’s will be looking for a lower contract. David DeJesus(2y 10.5) and Marlon Byrd(2y 16 mil) are mid tier outfielders that the O’s will be looking to match contracts off of. Kelly Johnson, Andres Torres, and Rajai Davis look like great targets for 5-6 million dollar outfielders. If the O’s do spend on a SP, Reed Johnson could be a 3 million dollar target. Plenty of options. Also would look at Raul Ibanez for DH. He’s 42, but was very good last year in Seattle.

According to ESPN

The Orioles also announced Monday night they tendered contracts to six of their arbitration eligible players: Matt WietersChris DavisTommy HunterBud NorrisBrian Matusz and Troy Patton.

They also re-signed Steve Pearce and Nolan Reimold

Not too sure what this means. Bud Norris being tendered means hes in the starting rotation. Hammel should walk, leaving Gonzalez, Tillman, Chen and him as starters. The O’s now have the options to sign an a top tier OF and promote Gausman/Britton /Bundy(when ready) or sign a 8-10 mil pitcher and sign a 4-5 mil outfielder to start in LF. The O’s are contenders and it would be nice if they could sign Choo, Beltran, or Nelson Cruz with a decent starter like Arroyo.

Now that the O’s have money, things should get interesting in the next few weeks with teams signing players to help the O’s mold contracts around their targets tier’s.

Dennis Pitta returns to Ravens practice today

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Pitta should miss at least one more week. If he can come back next week after (hopefully) a Ravens win, things could start looking up. This is a huge(I cant stress huge enough) upgrade from Dickson and Clarke. He’s a good run blocker and safety blanket for Flacco, the offense desperately needs him. When healthy, he finds seems in the middle of zones and can stretch the field vertically. This is very good news for the down but not out Baltimore Ravens.

Orioles Postseason Chatter

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Tim Hudson just signed with San Fran for 2 years 23 mil. He is coming off a serious injury and is 38. I think the Orioles should be spending their money on younger and healthier players. 11.5 a year is too much of a risk for a low market team like the O’s. There is also buzz around the Orioles looking seriously at Carlos Beltran. If the O’s are going to spend, this is the year in free agency. It sounds like Beltran wants at least a 3 year deal. Im guessing he’d make around 13-15 a year, and if a bidding war begins, it could be bad news for the O’s. Apparently the Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, and a few other teams are very interested. If the O’s are willing to spend, they should send 3 years 45 mil to Beltran, go pick up a starting pitcher for 8-10 mil a year, sign a right handed power/average hitting DH, and ink Omar Infante or trade for Ian Kinsler(Texas), Howie Kendrick(LAA), or another proven second basemen. These additions to the team could really help the Orioles over the hump of last year in which Nate McLouth slumped, Brian Roberts got hurt, the DH position could not get it together all year, and the starting pitching was miserable.

A few, but not all the avalibe veteran starting pitchers include: Ubaldo JimenezErvin SantanaBartolo ColonHiroki KurodaA.J. BurnettRicky NolascoMatt GarzaJosh JohnsonScott Kazmir, and Phil Hughes. With Hudson signing for 2y 23mil, the top tier pitchers will be looking for the same. This means pitchers like Phil Hughes, Scott Kazmir, Ricky Nolasco and a few others could go for 8-10 mil a year. The question is, would these pitchers be worth it? With Gausman and Bundy on the cusp of being dominate pitchers, should the O’s pull the trigger? Bundy should be throwing in December and ready to go for the beginning of the season. Gausman struggled with command last year, but should preform better next season with the experience he got this year. The current rotation of Tillman, Gonzalez, Chen, Hammel, Norris, and Feldman does not cut it in the AL East. Feldman and Hammel are free agents, and I expect them to walk. Replacing Hammel with Ubaldo/Colon/E Santana/J Johnson could make a huge difference. The rotation would look like (new pitcher), Tillman, Gonzalez, Chen, and Norris. If the 2-4 and stay healthy and Bud Norris gets back to his Ace days at Houston, this could be a very good rotation.

Ravens at Bears reaction

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The Ravens were finally able to move the ball on the ground, but struggled mightily in the passing game. With the running game success  one would have thought Flacco would have been calm and collected in the pocket, but it was the complete opposite. He missed WRs, threw a pair of INTs(led to 3 points), was sacked 3 times, and looked uncomfortable all game. The Ravens OLine probably had their best game of the year(not saying much), and it looks like the addition of Eugene Monroe may end up being a good move. They are starting to play as a unit. Ray Rice looks like he found that burst he has been missing all season. Could be good moving forward.

The defense was strong all game. Forte is a tough player to stop, and he was able to move the chains all game with his 125 yards of total offense. The secondary kept Brandon Marshall in check, but did allow Jeffery 80+ yards. It really is pick your poison with those two. Overall, the secondary played well. The front 7 gave up 100, but seemed to play stronger as the game progressed. The defense played well with all the talents on the Bears offense. This game came down to terrible play from Flacco.

Torrey Smith posted weak yardage again with 32 yards on 5 catches(8 targets). He did score a big TD to take the lead in the second quarter. He needs more touches, and should be in double digit targets with the amount of passing the Ravens usually do. Jacoby Jones continues to be a no factor. The TEs have not been playing well and need to step up as 3rd down targets to move the chains. The offense needs to find some sort of rhythm(and need to improve their 1-5 road record). 

Next week is a huge game at M&T Bank vs the Jets. This is a must win, especially with the Bengals playing the Chargers after their week 12 bye week. 

Ravens at Bears Preview

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Is this the week the Ravens are finally able establish some sort of run game? The Bears are allowing over 129.4 rush yards per game, which is 31st in the league. The Ravens need to run the ball on early downs and use play action to stretch the field. Bernard Pierce needs to see more carries. Not knocking Ray Rice, but Pierce has been more effective. The Bears defense is banged up, playing without Peanut Tillman, Jay Ratliff, and Lance Briggs. Flacco and company should be able to move the chains all game(SHOULD).

The Bears offense will be a tough matchup for the improved Raven’s defense. They are 8th in passing yards (261.7) and 16th (111) in rushing. Playmakers Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and TE Martellus Bennett will be a handful for the secondary and linebackers. Luckily, Jay Cutler is not playing, although Josh McCown has been decent in his reserve duties. Limiting Forte will be huge. They will go to him early and often. Shutting down Forte will allow the Ravens to keep the safeties back in passing situations, which will be help the corners with the 6’4 Marshall and 6’3 Jeffery. The pass rush should pressure McCown all game. Dumervile and Suggs should have no problem against  the Bears offensive tackles. The secondary, especially the corners, will need to play like they did last week. 

Prediction: 27-20 Ravens. Rice and Pierce combine for 120 and 1 TD. Dumervile and Suggs each get at least 1 sack. Secondary holds McCown to under 250. Forte held under 100.