So much for last year: “The honeymoon with Buck Showalter seems to be over now”

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Buck Showalter took over a dreadful 32-73 team and managed them to a 34-23 record down the stretch last season, creating some optimism among Orioles fans for the first time in a long time.

So much for that.

This season the Orioles have the AL’s worst record at 42-63, which is a .400 winning percentage that ranks as the team’s second-worst during the past 10 years, and as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes “the honeymoon with Showalter seems to be over now, with some fans routinely criticizing Showalter’s lineup and bullpen decisions.”

That’s what happens when raised expectations are met with the league’s worst record, but Showalter has now managed exactly one full season in Baltimore and his 76-86 record would be the team’s best since 2004. He’s not a miracle-worker, but for the Orioles a .469 winning percentage is pretty close and Connolly is full of praise while noting that Showalter has “had to count on guys who probably shouldn’t be in the majors” and “has been handcuffed by the lack of talent on the 25-man roster.”

Reading between the lines, that sure seems to suggest that Orioles fans should be reconsidering the length of their honeymoon with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.