Allard Baird withdraws name from consideration for Orioles’ GM job

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Another day, another candidate drops out out the running for the Orioles’ general manager job. Nice to know you can still count on something in this cruel, cruel world.

Earlier this morning we learned that the Orioles planned to ask permission to interview Red Sox vice president of player personnel and pro scouting Allard Baird. Well, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that while the former Royals’ GM was “tempted by the idea” of joining forces with O’s manager Buck Showalter, he didn’t want to leave new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.

Just to bring us up to date, that means the O’s have been turned down by Baird, Jerry Dipoto, Tony LaCava and DeJon Watson.

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun brings word that former Expos and Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette did interview for the job today, most likely under his own free will, and the Orioles have received permission to speak with Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer. Meanwhile, Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock and Orioles director of player development John Stockstill remain in the mix.

For what it’s worth, Connolly speculates that Duquette must be considered the favorite for the gig based on what the Orioles were originally seeking (a warm and willing body?) in a candidate. Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com hears that the Orioles were hoping to make a decision by Monday, though that seems a little on the quick side now.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.