Orioles ‘poking around’ on Jason Vargas

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Like a kid checking out a dead frog with a sharp stick, I presume.

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reported Thursday that the Orioles are now shying away from Matt Garza and are “poking around on” Seattle’s Jason Vargas as they attempt to upgrade their starting pitching.

Hopefully, this is nothing more than due diligence. Vargas has been a pretty solid starting pitching for Seattle, but he wouldn’t work in Camden Yards or the AL East. Vargas has a 5.09 ERA outside of Safeco this year and has allowed a whopping 17 homers in 69 innings on the road. Overall, he’s allowed 23 homers, which leads the majors by three. Just his road total alone would rank tied for fifth in all of baseball.

Also, look at his career record against American League East teams:

Boston: 1-2, 3.51 ERA
New York: 0-3, 6.55 ERA
Tampa Bay: 1-3, 3.82 ERA
Toronto: 0-3, 6.49 ERA

Overall, he’s 2-11 with a 5.01 ERA against AL East teams other than Baltimore. Just counting the road outings, he’s  1-6 with a 7.08 ERA.

Vargas may not be entirely a Safeco creation — he did have a decent enough 3.79 ERA in 13 road starts last year — but it’s doubtful he’d be more than a fringe fifth starter for an AL East team. Put him in Camden Yards and Orioles fans may start longing for Jake Arrieta again soon enough.

The Angels were the first team to use up all of their mound visits

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Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.

Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.

At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.