New skipper, same results in Baltimore

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Juan Samuel Orioles.jpgClay Buchholz ruined Juan Samuel’s first game as O’s interim manager, tossing a complete-game five-hit shutout as part of an 11-0 victory on Friday night. The Orioles have now lost nine consecutive games and enter play on Saturday at 15-40. They currently sit an incredible 21 games behind the first-place Rays in the American League East.

It doesn’t look like things are going to get magically better any time soon, but Samuel’s sense of humor is still intact. For now, anyway. (via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).

“Well, we got the first one out of the way for me.”

Friday’s starter Chris Tillman was only able to record four outs before he was yanked
after 57 pitches, giving up four runs on five hits while walking two and
striking out two. It was only his second start back in the big leagues, but the young right-hander is symptomatic of a core of young players — including Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen — who have taken a “giant step” backward this season, according to team president Andy MacPhail.

It’s hard for MacPhail to preach patience when the team needs to try to sell tickets — especially with the excitement in the region tilting in the Nationals’ favor — but let’s just say that the young core mentioned above isn’t the only thing that has diverted off course in the past year. I believe the Orioles unfairly raised the expectations of their fanbase by bringing in veterans like Kevin Millwood, Mike Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins this winter when they really didn’t need to.

The injuries to Gonzalez and Brian Roberts haven’t helped their plight, but contending should never have been a consideration this season anyway. The Gonzalez signing was especially absurd at the time and looks even more egregious now. With that being said, I still trust MacPhail’s overall vision for the franchise. I just hope it isn’t much longer before we see names like Millwood and Ty Wigginton give way to promising youngsters like Jake Arrietta and Josh Bell.  
 

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.