The Orioles completed the first month of the offseason with a hiring and three Gold Gloves.
The hire was a surprise. Dave Wallace was tabbed as pitching coach, beating out three other outside candidates, but the three Gold Gloves were not.
Wallace has an outstanding resume, but hadn’t been a major league pitching coach since 2007. He’s worked with a variety of pitchers, and was the Boston Red Sox pitching coach when they won the 2004 World Series.
One of the other contenders, Rich Dubee, was the pitching coach for the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies when they won the World Series. Another Carl Willis, coached three Cy Young winners. Andy Hawkins, the Texas Rangers’ bullpen coach, was the other outsider interviewed.
But, Wallace at 66, stood out to Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter.
Now, his real work begins.
He needs to get to know the Orioles’ pitchers, their talents and personalities. Some of them, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz, have now had five pitching coaches during their time in Baltimore.
Wallace will also have input on hiring a new bullpen coach, which we can presume won’t be Bill Castro. Castro served as pitching coach for the last six weeks of the season when Rick Adair took a leave of absence for personal reasons.
His work as bullpen coach has been praised by Showalter as has Scott McGregor’s. McGregor took over for Castro when Adair left, but both may be given other jobs in the organization. Neither Castro nor McGregor was officially interviewed for the job that went to Wallace.
J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Manny Machado won Gold Gloves a few hours after Wallace’s hiring was announced. It was the second straight year for Hardy and Jones, and the centerfielder’s third overall. It was a big day for Jones, who announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Audie Fugett while vacationing in Paris.
Machado won the first of what are expected to be many Gold Gloves. He ended the six-year monopoly of Texas’ Adrian Beltre and Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria, who were the other finalists.
The big surprise was Kansas City’s Salvador Perez besting Matt Wieters, who had won the previous two years.
New sabermetric measures have been introduced to try and inject some real values into what had been a popularity contest.
Chris Davis and Nick Markakis were also finalists, but didn’t win. Markakis won in 2011.
Free agency talk has begun. The Orioles began retooling their roster by outrighting first baseman Dan Johnson and outfielder Chris Dickerson to Norfolk. Both refused the assignment, and they’re now free agents.
On Saturday, the Orioles declined their 2014 option on Tsuyoshi Wada after he completed his two-year, $8.15 million contract without throwing a pitch for them. He could return next spring on a minor league contract.
The Orioles’ 40-man roster is at 36. Alexi Casilla’s option will be declined by the Orioles early next week, and he’ll come off the roster, too.
Manny Machado and Nolan Reimold, both on the 60-day disabled list, must be added, and there are some minor leaguers who will placed there, too. Catchers Michael Ohlman and Caleb Joseph could be put on the 40. So could Tim Berry, a former 50th round draft choice, who’s pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
The Orioles have seven free agents: Scott Feldman, Jason Hammel, Nate McLouth, Michael Morse, Brian Roberts, Francisco Rodriguez and Chris Snyder.
They have the most interest in Feldman, McLouth and Roberts.
The Orioles have a window to re-sign them before they test the free agent market, but with little time remaining before 5 p.m. on Monday, it’s unlikely that any deals will be done.
It’s probably going to be a slow developing free agent market again this year. The general manager’s meetings in Orlando begin on Nov. 11, but a lot of the real action may not occur until the Winter Meetings, also in Orlando, beginning Dec. 8.
The Orioles are expected to be active shoppers. It would be a surprise if they want after a top ranked player. Robinson Cano and Shin Soo Choo are probably out of their price range, but they may be more active in looking at free agent pitchers.
If they’re unable to re-sign Feldman, they’ll look for another starter, and will probably remake the bullpen somewhat.
The Boston Red Sox signed seven free agents last winter, none with a contract over $39 million. The Orioles may try a similar strategy, and hope that most of them are able to contribute.
In the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched a scoreless inning to help the West to a 9-2 win.