Orioles sign pitcher Alex Cobb to four-year, $60 million deal

The Baltimore Orioles got out their giant orange checkbook and signed Tampa Bay Rays right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb to a four-year deal worth a reported $60 million. The deal supposedly includes deferred money, money the team will not be paying Cobb until after his career with the Orioles is over. If memory serves, Chris Davis received a similar deal when he was resigned with the Orioles.

Alex Cobb is 30 years old and played his entire career with the Rays, so he’s familiar with pitching in the American League East.  He has a career 48-35 record and an ERA of 3.50 in 115 major league starts.

Alex Cobb had Tommy John elbow reconstruction in 2015. The 2017 season was his first full season back since the surgery and he pitched 177 innings with an ERA of 3.66. His career ground-ball rate is a whopping 54 percent. The fact that he can get hitters out with ground balls should make him quite effective in Camden Yards.

Something else that will help Alex Cobb pitch in Baltimore from his years pitching in Tampa: he’s no stranger to pitching in front of so many empty seats.

Orioles sign pitcher Alex Cobb to four-year, $60 million deal - Bent Corner
Alex Cobb pitching last season in front of the Orioles faithful.

This looks like it has all the makings of a fantastic free agent signing by the Baltimore Orioles, something they haven’t always been accused of doing. They needed a starting pitcher and it looks like they went out and got the best starting pitcher they could get.

There’s a reason people hate the New York Yankees

From The Baltimore Sun:

Manny Machado won’t be a free agent until next offseason, but Aaron Judge is already making his pitch to the All-Star shortstop on why he should join the Yankees.
 
“Adding him to our lineup that we’ve already got would be something special. I told him he’d look good in pinstripes,” Judge said.
 
Judge said he made his pitch to Machado before Wednesday’s spring training game.
 
“He just kind of laughed it off and didn’t really say much,” Judge said.

You know who else looks good in pinstripes? Satan.

Personally, I’m looking forward to when Manny Machado is no longer in an Orioles’ uniform, but the reasoning is purely personal. I think he’s a tad bit overrated as a player, but more importantly for me personally, I don’t like Manny Machado as a person. I don’t like how he turned his back on his country, the United States, and played for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

Manny Machado played for the USA on the 18U National Team.
Manny Machado cosplaying as a citizen of the Dominican Republic.

Manny Machado is not a citizen of the Dominican Republic. Manny Machado is a citizen of the United States. As great as a player he might be, I’d rather not have him on a team I watch and root for. What he did was worse, far worse, then what some NFL players did by kneeling for the National Anthem.

With all that said, Aaron Judge engaged in tampering. That’s cheating. That’s what the Yankees do, they cheat. Worse, they tend to always get away with it.

My hope is the Orioles will be able to trade Manny Machado for pitching prospects, preferably those with high ground-ball rate (GB%). What is GB%?

From MLB.com:

Ground-ball rate represents the percentage of balls hit into the field of play that are characterized as ground balls. Each ball that is hit into the field of play is characterized as a line drive, a fly ball, a ground ball or a pop-up.
 
Ground-ball rate can be used as a metric to evaluate both hitters and pitchers, although it’s more frequently used to evaluate pitchers.
 
With pitchers, ground-ball rate can be very telling. For one thing, it lets us know what type of pitcher we have. Pitchers with high ground-ball rates have a tendency to allow fewer home runs (which result from fly balls and line drives). Obviously, preventing home runs is one of the most important aspects of pitching — as no outcome is more damaging.
 
Pitchers who possess high ground-ball rates have a tendency to induce a high number of double plays as well, and are generally more successful than pitchers who try to get by with high fly-ball rates.

For a pitcher to be successful in Camden Yards, I believe they have to have the ability to make batters hit ground balls.

Ryan Flaherty signs one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies has signed Baltimore Orioles utility infielder Ryan Flaherty to a one-year minor league deal. If the 31-year-old makes the team, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t, he will earn a guaranteed $1.9 million 2018 salary.

Ryan Flaherty’s 2017 stats (Source: Baseball-Reference)

The Orioles really screwed up with this one. They need a utility infielder. They had a player who has proven can come in and do a competent job. They had a player who wanted to be with the Orioles for 2018 and according to the Baltimore Sun, was willing to take less money to play for the Orioles. He likes them and they like him.

With that said, Ryan Flaherty will be sitting in the Philadelphia Phillies’ dugout in 2018, not the Orioles’.

The Baltimore Orioles are now back to .500 baseball

The Baltimore Orioles beat the California Angels of Anaheim of Orange Country near Los Angeles last night 6-2. It means the Orioles are back to an even record, 56 – 56.

It’s like the season starts all over again for the Orioles, except of course that Boston Red Sox are seven games ahead of them.

Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy went seven innings and got the win. He struck out 10 and allowed two runs.

I don’t like the Angels. I liked them fine when they were the California Angels, but when they began changing their name to make it sound like they play in Los Angeles, I wanted no part of them.

The Angels don’t play in Los Angeles. The play in Anaheim, a few miles from Fullerton, the city in which I was born. That’s right. I was born in the OC.

The Angels play across the street from Disneyland. If you can see Space Mountain and the Matterhorn from your parking lot, you’re not in Los Angeles.

It’s not like Los Angeles doesn’t have a baseball team. Not only do they have one, it’s very popular with people who actually live in Los Angeles.

The Baltimore Orioles need to trade Manny Machado

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is now 25 years old. He’s under contract with the Orioles until the end of the 2018 season. The Orioles need to trade Manny Machado for pitching prospects while he still has perceived value.

A good defensive third baseman who hits for power is a luxury the Orioles can’t afford, especially when you consider batting average. Manny Machado is currently hitting only .215 this season. Although batting average is often times a poor indicator of a player’s offensive ability, it’s a nice indicator of how many times a player’s efforts result in an out. Someone who is batting .215 generates an out for his team 78.5 percent of the time.

Whoever signs Manny Machado after the 2018 season will end up paying too much money. He’s the type of player who looks great on highlights. He makes outstanding defensive plays that look only better when seen over and over in high-definition slow motion. The same can be said for his home runs. What you don’t see in the highlights are all the times he’s strikes out (70) or all the other times he’s generated an out on offense. Manny Machado has generated 248 outs on offence, the worst for any third baseman in the American League.

If the Orioles are ever going to be a real contender in the American League East, they need to get rid of players like Manny Machado and replace them with pitchers who are more inclined to do well in the tiny confines of Camden Yards. That means pitchers who have a high ground ball percentage. That means pitchers who don’t throw a lot of pitches. The more pitches you throw, the more likely a hitter is going to guess right and either hit the ball over the shallow right field wall for a home run or in the left corner for a double.

What’s better, striking a hitter out with six pitches or making the hitter hit a ground ball to the shortstop on the very first pitch? It’s getting the batter out with only one pitch. One pitch outs are efficient and a thing of beauty. They’re far more valuable than a strikeout. Pitchers who can get hitters out with the least amount of pitches are the type of pitchers the Orioles need.

This is a philosophy that needs to begin in the minor leagues. Pitchers in the Orioles organization need to learn to be more cost-effective with their pitches. If the Orioles can trade Manny Machado for pitching prospects who already naturally embrace this pitching philosophy, then they need to do it while they can.

MLB’s hollow tribute to Jackie Robinson

One of the advantages of reactivating my Facebook account is that I get to see lots of ads. A while back I must have “liked” the official Lids Facebook account. I now get to see ads from Lids in my Facebook feed.

That’s not a problem. I like to wear overpriced hats associated with professional sports franchises. By Lids peppering my Facebook feed with ads, I now have a better idea on what I should be spending money on. In other words, being a good consumer.

There was an ad I saw yesterday that made me look twice. It was for hats honoring Jackie Robinson, the first black player to play in Major League Baseball. Not the first black player good enough to play in Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson was the first black player the racist pricks who controlled Major League Baseball allowed to play.

Major League Baseball has now turned the legacy of Jackie Robinson into a way of making money. These hats at Lids are just one example. The thing that surprised me about the ad is that they couldn’t even bother to get his name right. It’s Jackie Robinson, not Jackie Robins.

MLB's hollow tribute to Jackie Robinson - Bent Corner

It annoys me that every team in Major League Baseball gets to honor Jackie Robinson when only the Dodgers signed him and put him on the team. When I see a Yankees hat with 42 on the side, I think it’s honoring famed closing pitcher Mariano Rivera. He played 19 years of the Yankees and he wore the number 42 like Jackie Robinson. He started wearing it before Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson’s number league-wide. Players who already wore the number 42 could continue to wear it.

Why were they allowed to do that? If you want to mass retire a number you should be willing to enforce it immediately. We’re all for honoring someone or something, unless it’s inconvenient. Having to change the number on your uniform would just be too inconvenient.

Every year I saw Mariano Rivera play with the number 42, the more I associated that number with him, not Jackie Robinson. Like every other Yankees player, his name wasn’t on the back of his jersey. All he had was a large 42 on the back. Even now when I see the numbers of retired players at Camden Yards, the blue 42 makes me think of Mariano Rivera, not Jackie Robinson.

MLB's hollow tribute to Jackie Robinson - Bent Corner
Retired numbers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

It looks it me that the Orioles are honoring Mariano Rivera. This is the same team that has a statue of Babe Ruth in front of the stadium. Babe Ruth, the greatest Yankees player of all time.