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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Orioles Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Jon Shepherd from Camden Depot.

1) Manny Machado suffered a pretty significant injury at the end of the 2013 season. How do you see it affecting his fantasy value this year and do you think he will meet or surpass Grey’s projection of 80/14/61/.281/3?

I would argue the only thing significant about Machado’s injury is that it might take a bite out of his early season numbers. However, we are also entering into an interesting part of his career as he has begun to show secondary power. It may still wind up taking a couple more years, but he should blossom into a 20-25 HR threat and that should be taken into consideration if you are running a keeper league. Even more interesting in a keeper league is keeping tabs on whether J.J. Hardy signs an extension. That single event will like dictate if Machado is the team’s future 3B or SS. This year though, I would be weary though as many fantasy players are likely going to project a higher offensive upside for him. People often like to think they are getting in on the front end of players. One of my last years of playing fantasy ball included the mad rush to bid on Matt Wieters, which fantasy-wise was an incredibly poor move in terms of draft position and money. Another issue that may over inflate Machado’s perceived value is his defense. Part of his star quality is excelling at something that bears no importance in winning fantasy baseball and many owners are willing to throw in extra money or draft a guy a round early simply because they respect the all around quality of a player. I went on a tangent. Back to the question, I think the stat line looks reasonable, but I would reckon he will hit about 18 home runs and bat around .270.

2) Grey has two Orioles in his top ten overall for 2014: Adam Jones (5) and Chris Davis (9). Which of the two do you think is more likely to live up to their big projections? (Jones : 94/32/105/.282/15, Davis: 83/39/104/.259/3 )

The curse for many owners, fantasy and reality alike, is paying for past performance. What we have here is a “proven veteran” vs. a “break out” player. Proven veterans have to face the reality of aging curves while break out players combat simple regression to the mean. What we try to figure out from there is: what is their new talent level? I would say that Davis actually is more like to live up to his projection. Why? His projection is more in tune to what he did two years ago in about 550 plate appearances. Jones’ number tend to suggest that he will be able to rack up another near full season. With him getting almost to that aging point and playing center field, it is simply hard for me to expect him to continue performing at his current peak level and expect him to only miss a couple games. In other words, I think Grey has better accounted for Davis’ regression to the mean than he has figured the growth of Adam Jones’ career.

3) What does Kevin Gausman need to do to take the next step forward in 2014 and should fantasy players in redraft leagues be buying or selling the young pitcher?

Buy, buy, buy. The Orioles have thin starting pitching and Gausman is breaking about a year earlier than his other contenders (i.e., Dylan Bundy, Eduardo Rodriguez). He is a near elite ceiling pitcher who should provide league average numbers this season, but mature more as a two slot pitcher. All he really needs is better command of his breaking ball.

4)Regardless of who starts on Opening Day, who do you think ends up with the most playing time at second base for the Orioles in 2014?

Ryan Flaherty. He simply will have more opportunity. Flaherty will begin the season at second and will likely stick with the club if he fails there because he can play almost every other position well enough to be a dependable utility man. By being on the bench throughout the season, he will be a continual plan B as everyone will come through and likely fail. Jonathan Schoop is at least a year away from performing at a high enough level with his bat to break into the lineup.

5) What’s more likely to occur for the Orioles in 2014?

A) Machado plays some games at shortstop

B) Buck Showalter actually smiles on camera

C) Dylan Bundy starts 10 games

D) A huge misunderstanding occurs when Dylan’s younger cousin Ted is invited to throw out the first pitch on 70s Disco Night

Well, let us throw out the impossible. Dylan Bundy will not wear a Baltimore uniform this year unless it is a courtesy call up in September. Also, Baltimore would never have a disco night as disco never took root in this city. Baltimore went from Doo Wop and Soul to New Wave and Punk in one fell swoop, doing the former a bit better than the latter. That leaves us to two possibilities: Machado at shortstop and Showalter smiling. Both have happened in the past with Machado playing shortstop in the minors and Showalter being caught twice last year on TV smiling. At the moment, I think it is even money. If we place a bet on frequency, then it all depends on J.J. Hardy’s health and his supposed extension. If Hardy does not extend, then I imagine he will be dealt and Machado will see a lot of time at shortstop in August and September. This also presumes that the Orioles will not be competing for a playoff slot, which means that it is even less likely that Buck will smile.

  1. Max says:
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    Nice article, i’ve got a couple related O’s questions for you:

    A) Do you think Tommy Hunter will fair well as new closer? (I don’t)

    B) How do you see the 3rd/4th OF slot shaking down? As much as it pains me, I’m assuming Reimold will see 50-100 AB this year before/after his annual trip to the DL. Lough? Urrutia? Delmon Young? Are any of these guys worth targeting? As a fan of Orioles REAL baseball, I’m super excited about what Lough brings to the table personally and defensively, but should I be remotely as excited about him in fantasy?

    C) There is no C

    D) How many TDs will Steve Smith score this year?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Thanks Max.

      A) Hunter will get a decent shot to keep it I think, but he puts more balls in the air and strikes out too few for me to be confident in him for fantasy. Darren O Day is the handcuff I believe.

      B) Everything I’ve read so far says the Os are really impressed with Lough. I don’t think he’ll bring much to the fantasy table outside of deep and AL only leagues though.

      D) I don’t know anything about football so attempting to answer this question would do more harm to the world than good. ;)

      • Natty Boh says:
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        @Mike: Local talk radio here in Baltimore suggest moving Bud Norris to the closer role if Hunter fails. O’Day struggles on back, to back, to back nights.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          That’s interesting, Thanks Natty!

      • btd says:
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        @Mike: Another O’s fan here…

        IF Lough bats leadoff, then there’s value. Lough’s been hitting well this spring and has speed. But Markakis did well in the role last year as far as OBP goes. But Lough could still take the lead because Kakes seems like he’s driving the ball better this year. And since Kakes isn’t a true leadoff hitter, a move to the 6ish slot wouldn’t be too crazy. Opening up an opportunity for Lough to lead off. Regardless, the O’s are one of the high scoring teams in the league, so he’s at least deep league considerable.

        Flaherty may start and get the most reps at 2B, but Schoop is no worse a hitter even now than Flaherty is. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s a June call-up (assuming decent AAA numbers).

        I would shocked to see Bundy in Baltimore too.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          Good stuff btd. Thanks!

    • Wallpaper Paterson says:
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      @Max:
      D. 5-8. He is near the end of the line, but I think he will have one more useful season. I am a Jets fan and am thrilled Smith did not go to the Giants or Patriots. I do not mind the Ravens and I can still root for him. He has been fun to watch through the years.

  2. Ghost of the Dsappeared says:
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    Mike: WoW!!! The Birds? A tough team, pretty much always, over the last 2 decades to get a handle on. What a division!!! That said, they are about in as good a position as they have been for a long time with the reduced strength of the 2 Northeastern powerhouses.

    1) How bad is he hurt? He seems to be ahead of schedule. But? But? He is just running bases now at 70%. MLB is just 2 weeks away!

    Is he the Next ARod or Cabrera??? I betting he is a year away this year. He is a wildcard going into his 2nd season off this injury IMO.

    He is another hyped youngster going way too high. I have seen him around #80 in ESPN.

    I think, he could be huge ( less SBs in first half) or he could be an also ran… I like you numbers better than the LidLess Eye’s.. In fairness to the LE, he made those before Manny’s early recovery.

    If all goes well, he could have a wonderful 2nd half. A good target in trades in mid-season ESPN

    As an example, I like Lawrie (How quickly they forget, he is only 24 YO) way better for this year… But many touts have Manny higher – Certainly, folks drafting do to.

    2) This is Jone’s year. Legit 1st rounder. He could go off.

    Davis, while capable of hitting the most HRs in MLB, is on BUST ALERT for me – I mean a BIG BUST – 15 + HR and a 30 point BA decline possible. Probably, somewhere in between = he is NOT a 1st rounder or even an early 2nd rounder for me – Heck, I would not draft him before the late 3rd round in ESPN…. I do have different objectives than others early in ESPN drafts.

    3) The Birds record over the last 15 year or longer with young stud pitchers is only rivaled by the Rockies. Every year, we hear about this or that young super arm in Balt. Well, it is time to SHOW ME. Yes, sooner or later they will have some luck. I’m for waiting it to happen first. The park factor is not as bad as it use to be (but it has Yankee Stadium and Fenway are in its division) and the division is coming back to earth too. Maybe, this is the year?

    I’ll be passing to in ESPN RBL. And I don’t care for AL SPs in shallow league pitchers if they can be avoided.

    3) Great question – perhaps the best all season. Flaherty (super name factor) is one of those guys that always catches my eye. A Maine man too – always a good thing. Players like him always get my juices flowing. The other “guy over there” type. He may have his year or 2 in the sun beginning. POWER POTENTIAL!!!

    He will get a good shot to play early IF IF IF, Manny is not ready and Weeks does not play well.
    Weeks is his immediate threat to be a PT blocker for him. Week’s speed is lacking on the elsewhere on the Birds – They have to like him for that. Weeks burned his bridges in Oakland with his mouth and attitude. Maybe, he has learned something from this experience. Weeks is finally ready for his shot at MLB – in fairness to him, the A’s brought him along to soon.

    So it boils down to who plays better and Power vs Speed, They could cancel each other out to a degree for shallow league play. TOSS UP between Flaherty and Weeks

    Schoop is a non factor unless the 2 above fail.

    AVOID in ESPN BL until the dust settles – Either of them could be a nice puddle player if they land the majority of PT. Weeks being the FBB darling given his speed at 2nd base – rather rare these days. And Manny could always fail in his recovery too. Which would be good news for both of these guys.

    5) “B” Jones makes Bucky smile.

    Thanks

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Thanks Ghost. Great stuff in your comment as always. Gotta put this out there that I’m a big Machado fan. Totally agree on Jones.

  3. griff says:
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    Mike,
    do you think Archie Bradley will be in the dbacks starting rotation on opening day?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      I don’t, but I think he comes up and makes a big impact in the second half for the DBacks and fantasy teams.

      • griff says:
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        @Mike: just wondering now with all of the injuries to their staff. Sounds like Corbin could be out for extended time along with Arroyo and Cahill.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          Dropping like flies these pitchers. If they really want to give Bradley more time to cook they can always go to Delgado to hold things over. The Arroyo and Cahill injuries don’t sound serious, but if they turn out to be, I would think the DBacks have to at least consider letting Bradley loose.

  4. Richie says:
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    Don’t rule out Schoop this season. Reports out of spring training from the coaches has been excellent and he’s hitting the ball well. Remember how bringing manny up was a surprise.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Good point…he’s on fire this spring

    • Natty Boh says:
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      @Richie: Scoop has also added 20 lbs of muscle in the off season. He’s been tearing up spring training for what its worth and Bu really likes him. Flaherty although some pop is not an everyday player.

  5. Jeff in Southern Indiana says:
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    Mike and Ghost:

    In my first RCL so I’m a streaming virgin.

    How are you handling this overseas early start? LA vs. Zona and the other early games a week ahead of everyone.

    I think I’m going to drop the end of my bench to stream Andre Ethier and Brad Ziegler.

    Should I grab any other waiver guys like G. Parra or B. Wilson for the doubleheader, kind of iffy on AZ bats since they probably have to match up vs. Kerhsaw in game one.

    Thanks.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      I haven’t given much thought to the opening series to be totally honest, but I agree with you that AZ hitters probably won’t get much against Kershaw. Hitter-Tron and Stream-o-Nator will give you better info than I will though. I use both of those tools heavily in my RCLs.

  6. Wake Up says:
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    I think Buck gets a bad rap…(worse than Kanye)…sometimes…he was a big part of the Yanks, and the Rangers, and the O’s, and certain Ok. cul-de-sac…turn-a-rounds…

  7. Wallpaper Paterson says:
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    I now officially have tickets to the 7/12 game vs the Yankees. I will be attending the game with Fried Beans Jones and Chief Running Balls. One of us will be in that seat by the right field foul pole that is the only seat in the row. I might have to order a Razzball t-shirt and wear it to that game.

    Will Showalter wear a jacket that day? It is a late afternoon start in July. It could be 90 degrees or more.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Hells bells, I’ll be watchin ;)

      Definite jacket attire for Buck

  8. attgig says:
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    Does Markakis bounce back at all? or is he pretty much only starting because of his contract?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      I don’t think he does. He’s got the job so he’ll get some runs and RBI though.

  9. Ghost of the Dsappeared says:
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    MIKE!!!! NEWS FLASH Machado Has Set Back!!!! ……. Read About It!!!!

    Now Not Running Again!!!!

    From above ==== 1) How bad is he hurt? He seems to be ahead of schedule. But? But? He is just running bases now at 70%. MLB is just 2 weeks away!

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      Haha….yeah, yeah, yeah I saw. Now he will just fall farther down for me to swoop in on ;) the Good Lord gave us DL slots for a reason

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