Free agents, bullpen coach, awards big Orioles stories

Free agents, bullpen coach, awards big Orioles stories
November 9, 2013, 9:15 am
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In the first week of free agency, there were no notables signed by the Orioles—or anyone else.

That will soon change. Dan Duquette is heading to Orlando to attend the three-day General Managers’ meetings on Monday, and both the free agent talk and trade chatter will get hotter.

The Orioles officially said goodbye to Alexi Casilla on Monday and added left-handed pitcher Chris Jones to the roster. Duquette is especially high on Jones, who he acquired for Luis Ayala in April.

Reports surfaced on Friday night that the Orioles will hire Dom Chiti as their bullpen coach. Chiti worked with new pitching coach Dave Wallace in Atlanta, where he was a special assistant. He was also Buck Showalter’s bullpen coach in Texas for one year.

An announcement could come as early as Monday. Chiti, the son of former major league catcher Harry Chiti, is 52, and has worked in both the Indians and Orioles organizations. He pitched his final five games as a pro in Hagerstown, then an Orioles farm club, in 1981.

Chiti replaces Bill Castro, who had been bullpen coach the last two seasons until Rick Adair left the team in mid-August for personal reasons. Castro took over Adair’s spot for the last six weeks of the season and Scott McGregor worked in the bullpen.

John Russell (bench), Wayne Kirby (first base), Bobby Dickerson (third base), Jim Presley (hitting) and Einar Diaz will all return next season. Russell, Kirby and Presley begin their fourth seasons. Dickerson and Diaz their second.

Seven Orioles, Scott Feldman, Jason Hammel, Nate McLouth, Michael Morse, Brian Roberts, Francisco Rodriguez and Chris Snyder were already free agents. Casilla and Tsuyoshi Wada joined them in the last seven days.

Many reports circulated linking the Orioles will some of the more than 150 available free agents, but nothing serious seems to have developed yet.

Adam Jones made an appearance in South Baltimore this week to celebrate the opening of the Science and Technology Center at a Boys and Girls Club that bears his name. Jones and the Orioles made a $75,000 contribution to the club, and he mentioned that he and Showalter have been exchanging ideas about ways to improve the club for next season.

Jones has had a busy offseason. He and longtime girlfriend Audie Fugett went to Paris, got engaged, and on Friday night, he attended the dinner in New York honoring Gold Glove recipients. On Sunday, he’ll be hosting a charity tailgate before the Ravens game benefiting the Boys and Girls clubs.

Manny Machado was voted the top defender among the American League Gold Glovers and wins the Platinum Glove. He beat out Boston’s Dustin Pedroia and J.J. Hardy for the honor.

A night before, Machado surprisingly lost out to Pedroia for Wilson’s top defender.

Brooks Robinson, who won 16 straight Gold Gloves in his time, presented Machado with his award on Friday.

There’s still nearly a week left in the ever-expanding awards season, but there’s only one possible winner in the final week.

Chris Davis was named one of three finalists for the American League’s Most Valuable Player. The award, which will be announced on Thursday night, will probably go to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for the second straight year. Los Angeles’ Mike Trout, who lost out to Cabrera a year ago, is the other finalist.

Davis, Hardy and Jones also picked up Silver Slugger Awards this week. It was the first time three Orioles had won the award, and Jones is the first Baltimore outfielder to win one. Unfortunately for Frank Robinson, the award didn’t begin until 1980.

On Monday, the Rookie of the Year will be announced. Tampa Bay’s Will Myers and Chris Archer and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias are the finalists.

The Orioles had just one rookie, T.J. McFarland, who stayed with the team for the entire season. No other rookie batted or pitched in enough games to eliminate them for the award next season.

Kevin Gausman pitched in 47 2/3 innings. Fortunately for Gausman, he was 2 1/3 innings short of eliminating himself for next season’s award.

Henry Urrutia’s 58 plate appearances were the most among Orioles rookies, and he can also be considered for the award next year. There's no word whether Gausman will again be made to join the other rookies in wearing a silly costume next September. 

Chris Tillman wasn’t a finalist for the Cy Young Award, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he picked up a vote or two for his strong 16-win season. No Oriole has won the Cy Young since Steve Stone in 1980.

A year ago, Showalter was a finalist for Manager of the Year, and in an upset, Oakland’s Bob Melvin beat him out. Melvin, Cleveland’s Terry Francona and Boston’s John Farrell are the finalists.