* While Orioles fans wait for Manny Machado to return to the lineup, they can be happy knowing that the 21-year-old third baseman is among the "toolsiest" players in baseball, according to FiveThirtyEight.com's Jeff Sullivan. Also, according to Sullivan's data, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones just misses being a five-tool player because of his defense.
There’s no Mike Trout, and there’s no Miguel Cabrera. Just missing inclusion, as well, are Adam Jones and Starling Marte; the former was just shy on fielding, and the latter was just shy on power. Most impressive: Two out of the four players are on the Colorado Rockies.
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* Despite their somewhat slow start, Richard Justice of MLB.com believes the Orioles will still compete in the American League East this season.
The Orioles are good, really good. That is, they're good enough to hang with every other team in the American League East.
One thing they've proven these past two years is that they've got a manager who gets as much out of his team as anyone and a clubhouse with a tough, smart and productive leadership.
* Billboard.com's Chris Payne talks to Orioles fan and "punk icon" Joan Jett about her thoughts on the 2014 team, including whether Chris Davis can repeat his 2013 performance.
That would be big, but I don’t think you can expect that. I’m sure he would like that to happen, but you can’t count on that. All of your hitters have to hit. Our defense, I think, was the number one defense, so that has to stay at number one or two. We had great fielding percentages. They need to perform to what we know they can do. Nick Markakis needs to play the game he can play. Adam Jones playing the game he can play. ... I’m excited to see what can happen. We have plenty of ammo.
* On ESPNNewYork.com, Danny Knobler talks about the Orioles' matchup tonight against New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka in the Japanese right-hander's first start at Yankee Stadium.
Tanaka was a huge star in Japan, so he's accustomed to the attention and ready with matter-of-fact answers to most questions. But it should please the Yankees that he was so ready to refer to New York as "home" before throwing his first pitch off the Yankee Stadium mound.
* Last week, The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy wrote that he believes the Orioles will give the Boston Red Sox trouble in the AL East this season.
Bingo. No bridge building in Baltimore. The Orioles are going for it this year. The payroll is a franchise-high $107 million. The Duke invested $50 million (four years) in Wednesday’s meatball starter, Ubaldo Jimenez, and another $8 million in Cheatin’ Nelson Cruz, who won Monday’s game with a homer off Jon Lester leading off the bottom of the seventh after the ceremonial playing of John Denver’s “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,’’ then hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning Wednesday night. Baltimore shortstop J.J. Hardy is a free agent at the end of this season. The contracts of Nick Markakis, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters are all up at the end of next year.
MLB power rankings
* Jonah Keri of Grantland.com lists the Orioles at No. 17 this week.
The Orioles have contended in each of the past two seasons, and could again in 2014 thanks in part to late acquisitions Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez. If, however, they hope to vie for the playoffs instead of settling for another 80-something-win, middle-of-the-road campaign, they absolutely have to make smart decisions.
* ESPN.com ranks the Orioles at No. 22, down 12 spots from the previous week.
Winning two of six games against the two best clubs in baseball would be only irritating if it were June. Therefore, it should not be a soul-crushing series of events in April. Sit back, it is a long season.
* FoxSports.com puts the Orioles at No. 17, two spots lower than last week.
Chris Tillman has impressed in his first two starts, but the other four pitchers in the rotation will have to improve for the Orioles if they are going to be contenders this season.
* CBSSports.com ranks the Orioles at No. 20, a drop of eight spots from the previous week.
I thought Ubaldo Jimenez was supposed to be this "new and improved" version?
* USA Today lists the Orioles at No. 20, three spots lower than last week.
Brutal schedule exposing every flaw early.
* Sports Illustrated puts the Orioles at No. 21.
[Compiled by Dean Jones Jr.]