Four weeks into what’s looking like an eventful offseason, the Orioles still have time to celebrate the season just past.
On Friday, six Orioles, the most in the American League, were named as finalists for the Gold Glove Awards. Last year, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones won. A year later, all three were again named as one of the three finalists at their position. So were Nick Markakis, who won two years ago, Chris Davis and Manny Machado.
It’s a good bet that Wieters will pick up his third straight Gold Glove while Hardy and Jones get a second consecutive. It would be the third for Jones, who also won in 2009.
Markakis had a disappointing season at bat, but played very well in the field, not committing an error in 155 games in right field. It’s the second time in his career that he played flawlessly. When he won the award in 2011, he had 157 errorless games.
In 2011, Markakis had 14 assists, and may be harmed this year because he only had half as many this year. Fewer runners are testing his arm.
Entering spring training, Chris Davis’ liability at first base was a big story. By mid-March, it was a non-story.
Davis made just six errors in 155 games at first base and once had a 50-game errorless streak. Not bad for a guy who made four errors in 38 games in 2012.
It’s still unlikely that Davis will win the Gold Glove. Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer (eight errors in 158 games) and Tampa Bay’s James Loney (seven errors in 154 games) have great reputations as fielders, and Davis’ prodigious slugging may actually work against him.
Machado has the toughest job of all. Even though everyone marveled at his brilliant plays, he has to overcome Texas’ Adrian Beltre and Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria, who have combined to win the last six Gold Gloves.
It’s hard for a player to win their first Gold Glove, but once a reputation is established, it works for them. Machado may not win a Gold Glove this year, but his great work this year will help him in next year’s voting, especially if he doesn’t miss much time after left knee surgery.
Three Gold Gloves for the second straight year would be wonderful for the Orioles, a fourth magnificent.
The Gold Glove selection process has become more intricate, and to many observers a fairer one in recent years. The Kansas City Royals, who actually won 86 games, one more than the Orioles, but were terribly underpublicized, have five finalists. Tampa Bay’s entire infield: Loney, Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar are all finalists.
Davis, Hardy and Jones were named to The Sporting News’ All-Star team this week. Davis finished second to Miguel Cabrera in the voting for Player of the Year. That’s a likely precursor to the American League Most Valuable Player voting. The MVP Award will be announced on Nov. 14.
Dan Duquette hopes that the Orioles will have a new pitching coach next week. This week, the club interviewed former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, Seattle pitching coach Carl Willis, Texas bullpen coach Andy Hawkins and longtime major league coach Dave Wallace, who’s currently working for Atlanta.
There doesn’t seem to be a clear favorite. Duquette said he was impressed by the candidates, and he wasn’t sure if any of the Orioles internal guys would be formally interviewed.
It’s clear the Orioles are unlikely to bring Bill Castro back. Castro was the bullpen coach until mid-August when Rick Adair took a leave of absence for personal reasons. Even though the team ERA dropped under Castro, manager Buck Showalter and Duquette are looking for an alternative.
Castro could return to the bullpen under Showalter’s fifth pitching coach since Aug. 2010. The new pitching coach will have input on the selection of a bullpen coach.
The Orioles have yet to tinker with their 40-man roster. That will be coming shortly. Machado and Nolan Reimold will have to be reinstated. There’s currently just one opening on the 40-man and room will have to be created. Other players will be dropped, and some from the minor league system added.
As for the World Series, it resumes tonight in St. Louis. I’d like to see the Series begin on a Tuesday. That way, baseball could let the NFL have Thursday and Monday nights for their games and play Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Games 3, 4 and 5.
Kids could stay up to watch at least two games, and baseball could take advantage of a viewing vacuum on Friday nights.
The Series is tied at 1-1. Winners of Game 3 in those series have won 16 of the last 18 World Series. The 2003 Yankees and 1979 Orioles were exceptions.