Monday Mail: The Hokies’ 2018 Sack Leader, Trevon Hill’s Status and More

Monday Mail is back! So is college football, technically. Eight teams have started their 2018 season already, even though the season really begins this weekend. I’ll have my season prediction for Virginia Tech coming out this week, so look for that.

Until then, be sure to read the rest of this.

The odds-on favorite is probably Ricky Walker, who should build on his 4.5-sack performance in 2017. The problem is that Walker is now a marked man, and he’ll be the highlight of offensive gameplans in 2018.

Trevon Hill and Houshun Gaines will benefit. Hill is entering his third season as a starter and actually totaled 5.5 sacks last season. He’s an explosive pass rusher off the edge and with most of the line’s attention focused on Walker, Hill is positioned for success.

Gaines’ presence helps too. He finished 2017 with three sacks in limited playing time and gives Virginia Tech more of a pass rush than the Hokies had with Vinny Mihota at defensive end. With Gaines and Hill on the edge, both should find success getting to opposing quarterbacks this season. My money is on Hill to lead Tech in sacks, and he’ll take a long, hard look at the NFL after he does.

Speaking of Hill, our next series of questions relate to this…

Hill wasn’t allowed to speak to the media at Virginia Tech’s media day, which could signal one of two things.

In the past, Virginia Tech has kept players away from the media for a multitude of reasons. Wyatt Teller was kept from the media during his senior season but he was never suspended. Adonis Alexander was kept from the media for a very long time, and he was declared academically ineligible and suspended multiple times during his Virginia Tech career.

Hill could be in trouble, or it could be because of his criticism of Andy Bitter’s coverage of Mook Reynolds’ dismissal this offseason. We’ll find out on Sept. 3 if Hill is in Tech’s good graces or if he’s in big trouble.

Here’s a look at Florida State’s projected starters, courtesy of Noles247.

Virginia Tech’s offense has some talent, but so does Florida State’s defense. Brian Burns and Demarcus Christmas are Florida State’s most experienced defensive linemen. Burns had 4.5 sacks last season and 13.5 tackles for loss and is FSU’s headliner up front.

Two of Florida State’s linebackers have experience, albeit limited. Adonis Thomas is entering his final season of eligibility. The former Alabama linebacker turned JUCO product played in just four games in 2017 for the Seminoles. Junior Dontavious Jackson played in eight games last season and made 17 tackles, but lacks experience too. Freshman Jaiden Woodbey was one of the top college prospects in the Class of 2018 and is expected start at nickelback for Florida State.

In the secondary, Florida State is hoping Stanford Samuels III is able to play and if he is, he brings 10 games of experience with three tackles for loss and two interceptions worth of experience. AJ Westbrook is another experienced safety with 24 games under his belt as a Seminole. Levonta Taylor is about as good as it gets at cornerback, and Kyle Meyers is entering his third year in the program.

Virginia Tech’s offensive line should be able to hold their own vs. Florida State’s defensive front. Florida State has some experience at linebacker but none of them are proven options and as lone as Josh Jackson exercises extreme caution when throwing towards Taylor, Tech’s receivers should be able to find holes. Florida State might recruit like a juggernaut, but they’ve got holes they can’t fill.

Here’s who Noles247 predicts Florida State’s receiving depth chart heading into this season.

Starting outside receivers: Tamorrion Terry, Keith Gavin

Starting slot receiver: Nyqwan Murray

Murray led Florida State in receiving yards (604) last season and should be even more productive in his senior season. Murray is still recovering from a torn ACL but is expected to be a full go vs. the Hokies.

Outside of Murray, Florida State is bereft of experience at receiver. Terry is a redshirt freshman who signed with the ‘Noles in the Class of 2017. Terry wasn’t a highly-regarded recruit by Florida State standards, carrying just a three-star rating.

Gavin is a junior with 27 career catches, but that’s it. Gavin’s receptions all came last season and he still doesn’t have a touchdown reception in his career. Virginia Tech’s receiving corps isn’t all that experienced, but Florida State’s is even greener.

Florida State’s receivers are talented, but so are Tech’s defensive backs. They’re both young and both will make mistakes. It should be an entertaining battle between these two groups.

I’ll give one pitcher and one hitter that fit the description. Left-handed pitcher Josh Rogers has pitched well all season at the AAA level and has been even better in Norfolk since being acquired in the Zach Britton trade. Rogers has started five games for Norfolk, totaling a 2.08 ERA and a 1.088 WHIP. He’s pitched plenty of innings in the minor leagues throughout his career and since the Orioles starting rotation is a disaster, Rogers should get a chance this September.

Rogers isn’t on the 40-man roster, so space needs to be made. Twenty-eight-year-old reliever Sean Gilmartin doesn’t provide much value for the Orioles and really doesn’t need to be in the organization.

Despite poor numbers this season for Norfolk, DJ Stewart needs to get a look at the major league level. Stewart hasn’t really earned a promotion, hitting just .234 and slugging .391. However, given the Orioles plethora of future options in the outfield, Stewart needs to prove that he belongs. Yusniel Diaz, Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna will all reach the majors within the next two seasons and Cedric Mullins is already there. It’s time for Stewart to earn his spot or get pushed to the back of the line.

As much as I’d love to boot Chris Davis from the 40-man roster, that’s not realistic. How about Craig Gentry, who’s a 34-year-old outfielder that’s been average or worse at the plate since 2013. Gentry is a solid fourth outfielder that can play all three spots and run the bases, but he provides little to zero value to a team in the middle of a full rebuild.

Monday Mail: The First 2020 Commitment, Cunningham’s Role, Quincy’s Development and More

This will easily be the biggest Monday Mail I’ve written. Thank you for sending in all of these questions and thank you for your support. Grab a drink, take a seat and enjoy this week’s Monday Mail.

Here’s a timely question. Virginia Tech added their first commitment of the 2020 class on Friday, hauling in Virginia native Tyler Warren.

Warren is a 6-foot-5, 200-pound quarterback from Mechanicsville. Warren currently holds offers from Virginia and Syracuse, so his recruitment ended before it really got started. As much as I’d love to evaluate Warren’s ability, both of his season highlight videos on Hudl have been made private. Hopefully that changes soon.

In terms of the entire class, there are a few big-time targets for Virginia Tech. Chris Tyree is probably No. 1 on the list, being an elite running back from Virginia. Tyree has visited Blacksburg on numerous occasions and the Hokies have been recruiting him for years. According to 247Sports, Florida State, Mississippi State and Penn State are the biggest competitors for Tyree’s signature.

Blake Corum is another running back the Hokies are after. Corum currently plays at St. Frances Academy in Maryland and is another high-end prospect.

Virginia Tech is after several receivers in the 2020 class, including five-star Julian Fleming and four-star prospects Porter Rooks and KeAndre Lambert.

Defensively, Virginia Tech is heavily recruiting defensive linemen Tyler Baron and Bryan Bresee. Baron is related to former Hokie Woody Baron is a solid four-star prospect that could end up playing inside. Bresee is a 6-foot-5, 290-pound athletic freak that’s rated No. 1 in the country. Bresee is likely headed elsewhere, but Jacolbe Cowan would be a nice pickup too.

It’s extremely early in the process, and more names will appear. But for now, those are the prospects to keep an eye on.

There’s a chance, but this might be Chris Cunningham’s last chance at securing a big chunk of playing time.

Cunningham is entering his fourth year in the program and has yet to be a consistent impact player. Cunningham has just 15 catches over the last two seasons and after catching four touchdown passes in 2016, he caught just one in 2017.

If Cunningham is unable to solidify his role this season, he will be passed over for younger options that were recruiting by this coaching staff. Dalton Keene is just a sophomore and is already a better blocker than Cunningham is. Drake DeIuliis got a look on the outside in 2017 before pulling a hamstring and will probably get another look out there this season. Freshman James Mitchell has impressed in preseason camp and could play right away.

Virginia Tech has plenty of options at tight end. Cunningham is on the verge of making himself expendable, so 2018 is a critical year for him.

I still think the backup position is Ryan Willis’ to lose. Willis is experienced, even though that experience wasn’t enjoyable. But he looked the best in the spring and I think Hendon Hooker needs more time to mature and develop his skills.

Normally, Quincy Patterson wouldn’t figure into the equation this season. He’s a raw, unpolished prospect with tons of upside. Patterson needs time.

But with the NCAA’s new redshirt rules that allow a player to play in four games and still redshirt, Patterson most certainly needs to play in 2018. Part of the new redshirt experience, specifically for quarterbacks, needs to include garbage playing time.

Patterson’s development may be sped up if he’s allowed to see the field as a freshman. If the result of the game is no longer in question, Patterson should see the field so he can adapt himself to the speed of the game and make mistakes. Patterson needs to be allowed to fail so that he can succeed later in his career

Sure, if Patterson lights it up there will be an immediate quarterback controversy ignited by clueless fans. But those who understand how things work know that Patterson needs at least two years of protected growth before he’s ready to bloom.

Virginia Tech’s linebacker corps looks very promising. The group is full of youth and potential and the group is in good shape moving forward. But even with all the youth and all of the potential, there’s little to no chance that Bud Foster rotates his linebackers.

Foster has never rotated linebackers in his career, for better or for worse. Also, rotating young guys in and out prevents guys from getting the maximum amount of reps possible. Instead of spreading the reps around, you one guy taking as many of them as possible.

That’s not to say Foster won’t bench one of his linebackers in favor of another. Let’s say freshman Dax Hollifield starts vs. Florida State and plays poorly. I could see Foster going with Rayshard Ashby or Keshon Artis later down the line, if the poor play continued. I don’t think Foster will continue to play a guy who simply can’t get the job done.

Any combination of a maroon helmet, maroon jersey and maroon pants is in the top tier. #AllMaroonEverything is Virginia Tech’s best look and there really is no discussion.

That said, I do think the older uniforms look a bit better than the new ones. Specifically, I think an all maroon look using Tech’s 2005-ish look.

A throwback to a much simpler time. (Screenshot from Clark Ruhland’s Uniform Builder)

It’s a clean look with just enough orange used. Also, no shoulder stripes!

Here’s another alternate look I really like, incorporating last year’s jersey vs. North Carolina and an older helmet.

Orange isn’t always bad. (Screenshot from Clark Ruhland’s Uniform Builder)

Here’s another clean look with no shoulder or helmet stripe. That’s a perfect home alternate.

I think Virginia Tech’s defense would benefit by seeing Florida State later in the season. Not only would they have real tape to watch instead of piecing things together from last season, but they’d have chances to make mistakes against lesser opponents.

Would you rather the Hokies make mistakes against William and Mary, or Florida State?

On Sept. 3, several Hokies are going to be seeing the first significant snaps of their careers. Mistakes will be made. Assignments will be missed. Things won’t be communicated properly. It’s a lot easier to come back from those problems when you’re playing an FCS school, rather than a Power 5 opponent who’s recruited in the top 15 for over a decade.

The Orioles acquired 15 different players in their summer exodus, even though most of them were mid-end prospects. A few of them standout, however.

Yusniel Diaz is the best prospect the O’s trade for this summer. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound outfielder has killed it at nearly every stop he’s had, starting in Cuba. Diaz mashed in AA-Tulsa, finishing with a .314/.428/.477 line before being traded to the Orioles and sent to AA-Bowie. Diaz’ torrid pace has slowed considerably since being acquired by the Orioles, but his larger of body work says no one should worry.

Diaz is rated as the Orioles’ top prospect and will be making his debut in the near future. If Diaz finds his rhythm once again, he could find himself in Baltimore mid-2019.

In my opinion, Luis Ortiz is No. 2. He’s a big right-hander who rates as the Orioles’ seventh-best prospect. Ortiz has rebounded from a shaky 2017 and has a 3.54 ERA this season. Since being acquired by Baltimore, Ortiz has pitched 16 innings for AAA-Norfolk and has a 2.81 ERA.

Dillon Tate is third, although he and Ortiz are very close. Tate is two years older and after a stellar 2017, has slowed in 2018. Tate’s ERA this season is over four and has allowed 18 earned runs in just four appearances for AA-Bowie. Tate will likely find his footing but isn’t ready for the bump to AAA just yet.

I think Ryan Mountcastle will be in Baltimore at some point in 2019. He probably won’t make the Opening Day roster but after a short stint in AAA-Norfolk, I think he’d be ready. Mountcastle is hitting .304 at Bowie this season and has 12 home runs and 53 RBIs in 87 games. He’s been consistent all season long and barring a setback, he should be ready some time in 2019.

DJ Stewart should get called up this September, but he hasn’t done much to boost his stock this season. Stewart is hitting just .235 at AAA-Norfolk this season and as been awful since June. Stewart hit .175 in July and is hitting .204 so far in August.

Still, Stewart needs to see major league competition. He’s next in the line of Orioles prospects expected to make their debut and given the organizational depth behind him, the Orioles need to find out of Stewart can get the job done. They also need to find out if he can even play outfield at the major league level, or if he’ll need to move into a first base or designated hitter role.

For those of you who are unaware of who Stephen Newman is, he’s a great friend of mine who is also a sports writer. Stephen covered all sorts of Virginia Tech sports for the Collegiate Times as a student and is very knowledgeable. Go follow him on Twitter.

The Orioles should absolutely re-sign Adam Jones and keep him around for the rebuild. Not only can Jones, a 13-year veteran, mentor the Orioles’ young outfielders sure to debut in the coming years, but Jones can still hit.

Yes, Jones’ power numbers are down. Despite a slight increase last season, Jones has slugged less than .440 in two of the last three seasons and hasn’t hit 30 or more home runs since 2013. But, Jones is hitting .285 this season, his exact average from last season. Jones isn’t a do-it-all hitter anymore, but he can still hit for average.

Jones’ community involvement and level of play over the last several years have made him the face of the franchise. As fans struggle to keep the faith through a rebuild, having a player that fans like and can connect with is essential to keeping the fanbase engaged.

Orioles fans understand that Jones will never be the defensive stud and slugger that he used to be. However, he can still be a serviceable corner outfielder (if he’s willing to play in the corner long-term) and hitter while mentoring younger players and keeping fans engaged. Hopefully, general manager Dan Duquette realizes Jones’ true value and keeps Jones in Baltimore for the rest of his career.

Monday Mail: Wide Receiver Depth, Quarterbacks, the Maryland Situation and More

Monday Mail has returned. I apologize for the delay, and I hope you’ll cut me some slack. Thank you again for this week’s submissions and I hope that you’ll continue to submit questions each week.

Alright, it’s time for your mail.

That’s a good question. When Justin Fuente arrived at Virginia Tech, he and Brad Conrnelsen had the star talent at wide receiver but didn’t have the depth they were looking for. Cornelsen wanted anywhere from 6-8 receivers that could contribute.

This season, the Hokies are much closer to that 6-8 number. Here is what Tech’s first and second teams looked like on offense in the open practice last week.

Damon Hazelton, Hezekiah Grimsley and Eric Kumah will all be contributing this season. Hazelton should be Virginia Tech’s No. 1 option and Grimsley and Kumah will produce as well. Phil Patterson did very little in two games last season but given his talent, Patterson should be ready for his third year in the program. Savoy was highly productive in his first season but faltered down the stretch. All five of these players should be ready to contribute in some way.

Tre Turner is a bit of a wildcard. The true freshman missed most of his senior season with a shoulder injury and the slightly-built Turner would probably benefit from a year in the weight room. However, if Turner is cracking the two-deep in his first preseason camp, maybe he’s ready.

CJ Carroll is good enough to crack the rotation, but his constant injury issues could return again in 2018. Carroll gives the Hokies depth at slot receiver and can return punts and kicks, but how many games will he be available for?

Another dark horse is freshman Kaleb Smith. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound prospect impressed in the spring and with the Hokies lacking star power on the outside, everyone is going to get an opportunity out there. Smith might be a walk-on but he was originally committed to Wake Forest and held scholarship offers from East Carolina and Virginia. He’s no slouch.

In short, Virginia Tech should have at least six contributors at receiver this season. Not everyone I named will play well and Turner and Smith could easily redshirt. But the Hokies have options, something they lacked two seasons ago.

Judging from his senior highlight film, Quincy Patterson has a lot more arm talent than Josh Jackson. Not only does Patterson have the stronger arm but with time, he’ll have the accuracy and touch too.

Patterson is the prototypical quarterback. At 6-foot-4 and 236 pounds, Patterson has the unique combination of size, arm talent and athleticism. Patterson has all the tools to be a successful quarterback at the college level, he just needs time to learn and hone his skills.

Jackson is the opposite. Jackson lacks elite physical tools and size but is smart on the field and makes good decisions. Jackson has the demeanor of a senior and has an advanced knowledge of the offensive system. Jackson’s upbringing and intangibles compensate for some of the tools that he lacks, like a strong arm or quick feet.

Now we’re cooking with gas — some Orioles questions.

I’ve pondered the same question about Chris Davis. He’s on pace for one of the worst seasons in modern history, batting .160 and slugging just .303. Among qualified players, Davis’ -2.3 WAR is the worst in the major leagues. He’s the worst player in baseball this season.

As bad as Davis is, I somewhat understand keeping him in the lineup. Davis hit six bombs in July and drove in 11 RBIs but has cooled since. Given the Orioles’ youth movement, Davis needs to sit.

Trey Mancini’s future isn’t in left field, as you noted. Mancini is a defensive liability out there and is best-suited for first base. Moving him there now would be beneficial.

As long as Mark Trumbo is on the team, which shouldn’t be long, Trumbo should be in the lineup and in the field. Trumbo’s offensive output dwarfs that of Davis (17 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .790 OPS) and for some reason, Trumbo bats much better when playing in the field (1.091 OPS as first baseman and .921 OPS as a right fielder). Despite his poor defensive abilities, pushing Trumbo to left could help disguise his deficiencies.

It was fun watching Davis mash baseballs for a few years, but his time as come. Davis is nothing more than a platoon bat at this point and is no longer the solid first baseman that he used to be. I know he’s getting paid oodles of cash but at some point, you have to admit he’s sunken cost and move on.

I love me some Cedric Mullins. As a 13th round pick in 2015, it’s not surprising that he’s flown under the radar until this season. Mullins raked in Bowie to start the 2018 season, earning a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. Mullins continued to play well, driving in 18 runs over 59 games and finishing with a .757 OPS.

Since the Orioles called up Mullins, he’s done nothing but succeed. He’s 4-9 with three walks and his speed has given the O’s an instant upgrade in center field. As good as Adam Jones is, his shrinking range has cost Baltimore defensively.

Mullins may never be a star, but he’ll always be a productive player. He’ll be a solid defensive player and a potential leadoff hitter for his entire career. The Orioles may have found their center fielder of the future.

For those who are unaware of the problems that Maryland is having, here’s a solid recap of the entire disaster.

The ugly truth of it all of this — there is probably borderline abusive behavior going on at every single college athletics program in the country.

Not every program is actually abusive. Not every coach pushes kids too far. In fact, almost every coach in America knows where the line is and doesn’t cross it. Coaches usually know how to push kids without pushing too far. Sometimes, coaches lose control like Buddy Stephens at East Mississippi Community College or Jason Brown at Independence Community College.

In the case of Cam Goode, the word is that Goode couldn’t handle the strength and conditioning program at Virginia Tech. Most kids don’t have a problem, but some kids just don’t buy in. The whole point of summer conditioning for freshmen is to break them down so that they can be built back up properly. It’s a grueling process, but one that is necessary.

Maybe Goode was overworked. Maybe Ben Hilgart went over the edge and Goode had enough. We’ll likely never know, unless other players come forward with similar stories. Until then, it’s not fair to blame Goode or the Hokies. The two parted ways, and that’s that.

Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette Regains Credibility With Trade Deadline Moves

When Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette traded Manny Machado last month, he proclaimed that the organization was in full rebuild mode.

Duquette decreed that the Orioles were changing their entire organizational philosophy. With the blessing of notoriously difficult owner Peter Angelos and his sons John and Louis, Duquette announced that the Orioles would trade veteran talent before the July 31 trade deadline and begin reallocating the team’s resources to build for the future.

Given Duquette’s recent track record of financial and personnel mismanagement, Orioles fans had every right to be skeptical. Everyone knows a rebuild is necessary, but is Duquette the man for the job?

The early returns are positive. After moving Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 18, Baltimore traded closer Zach Britton to the division-rival Yankees. The Orioles then shipped Jonathan Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers and Kevin Gausman to the Atlanta Braves. Neither Schoop or Gausman were up for free agency after this season, but the Orioles moved them anyway. That alone shows that Duquette is serious.

As painful as these last few trades have been, particularly with the Machado, Britton and Schoop deals, each has been a necessary step towards the Orioles catching up with the rest of the baseball world.

In case you don’t follow the Orioles, or baseball in general, here are the trades Baltimore made prior to the July 31 trade deadline.

July 18 — Orioles trade infielder Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Yusniel Diaz (No. 4 Dodgers prospect), infielders Rylan Bannon (No. 28 Dodgers prospect) and Breyvic Valera and pitchers Dean Kremer (No. 27 Dodgers prospect) and Zach Pop

July 24 — Orioles trade pitcher Zach Britton to the New York Yankees for pitchers Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate (No. 9 Yankees prospect)

July 30 — Orioles trade pitcher Brad Brach to the Atlanta Braves for $250,000 in international signing bonus slot money

July 31 — Orioles trade pitchers Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to the Atlanta Braves for pitchers Evan Phillips and Bruce Zimmerman, infielder Jean Carlos Encarnacion (No. 14 Braves prospect), catcher Brett Cumberland (No. 30 Braves prospect) and $2.5 million in international signing bonus slot money

July 31 — Orioles trade second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielders Jonathan Villar and Jean Carmona (No. 14 Brewers prospect) and pitcher Luis Ortiz (No. 7 Brewers prospect)

(Note: All prospect rankings are courtesy of MLB Pipeline.)

In terms of quantity, the Orioles brought in quite a haul for their stars and veterans. Duquette traded Machado, Britton, Brach, Gausman and O’Day for a total of 15 players, despite only two of them being top-100 prospects (Diaz and Tate).

Oriole fans were hoping for more value, especially in the Gausman trade, but Duquette got as much as he could realistically ask for. When all the value is assessed, the Orioles got more than enough.

Diaz and Tate are both big leaguers in at least an average capacity and have the upside to be impact players. Carroll has already been called up to the major league club and Rogers likely isn’t far off. Villar is now the team’s starting second baseman and is under club control through the 2021 season. Not all of the prospects will pan out but given the quantity of players acquired, the Orioles will get at least few big leaguers by default.

The $3 million in international signing bonus money is an undervalued asset by fans. The Orioles have been a non-factor on the international market for years, contributing to the team’s anemic farm system. Part of Duquette’s change in course is to invest heavily in the international market and as The Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina reports, the Orioles now have more than $8 million allocated for international signings.

As an Orioles fan, it sucks to watch the team trade away most of it’s stars. Since 2012, Baltimore has been the most consistent team in the AL East and nearly made a World Series trip in 2014. But the window has closed and it’s time to focus on the future. If the Orioles manage this rebuild correctly, perhaps the Birds will get back to the playoffs soon.

Despite his failures in recent years, maybe Duquette is the right guy to lead the way.

Despite Reasonable Return, the Baltimore Orioles Lost the Manny Machado Trade

The Baltimore Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Lost Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. (Graphic via @masnOrioles on Twitter)

It didn’t have to end this way.

The Baltimore Orioles, who have four winning records since the 1998 season, didn’t have to trade the most talented player in the franchise’s history. But that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday.

The O’s traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, receiving five prospects in return. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect according to MLB.com, is the headliner and looks to be at minimum an everyday starter in the future. The Orioles also acquired infielders Breyvic Valera and Rylan Bannon and pitchers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop.

Given that Machado is a free agent at the end of the season, it seems like quite a haul. Still, the Orioles lost this trade.

The chickens have come home to roost. The Orioles’ mismanagement and poor decision making has turned the team into a laughing stock. And it didn’t have to be this way.

The Orioles could have locked up Machado years ago. When the Angels realized Mike Trout was on his way to becoming the best player in baseball, they didn’t wait until they were forced to trade him for prospects. The Angels signed him to a six-year, $144.5 million deal when Trout was just 22 years old.

Instead of treating Machado like the budding superstar he was, the Orioles played hardball. General manager Dan Duquette and the front office lowballed Machado, offering him a deal worth “well below $100 million” according to Fancred MLB insider Jon Heyman. The O’s dragged their feet.

As Baltimore fumbled the Machado situation, they locked up Chris Davis with a seven-year, $161 million contract in 2016. Since the deal, Davis has turned into one of the worst hitters in the league, striking out 530 times in 365 games. Davis hasn’t hit higher than .221 since the deal and this season, has just nine homers and 28 RBIs in 80 games this season.

Meanwhile, the Orioles let the former face of the franchise Nick Markakis walk in 2015 for a cool $44 million over four seasons. Markakis started his first All-Star game this week and is hitting .323 this season. Nelson Cruz left for Seattle for $57 million over four years and since joining the Mariners, Cruz has hit 148 home runs and been named an All-Star in three of the last four seasons.

By backing up the Brinks truck for Davis and letting Markakis and Cruz walk, the Orioles ballooned their payroll while making the team worse. A tight payroll combined with a 28-69 record at the All-Star break is no formula for re-signing your 26-year-old superstar.

The Orioles are now faced with a full rebuild. Duquette addressed the media after trading Machado on Wednesday, saying that the organization was ushering in a new era of front office practices.

Thanks Dan, I appreciate the changes. You’re about two or three years too late to decide to run the front office correctly, but good job. Hopefully Duquette won’t be the one running this rebuild.

It didn’t have to be this way, but this is the new reality for Orioles fans. We’ll likely have to see Zach Britton and Adam Jones playing for other teams in the near future, with the latter being nearly unbearable. We’ll also have to watch Machado play elsewhere and wonder just what could have been.

Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.