Legendary Orioles Manager Weaver Dies at 82

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Legendary Orioles Manager Weaver Dies at 82

Earl Weaver, who managed the Baltimore Orioles through the most successful period in the club's history, died Friday night at the age of 82.

WNST Radio in Baltimore and the New York Daily News were the first to report Weaver's death. The Orioles confirmed the news shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday, saying that Weaver had suffered an apparent heart attack while on an Orioles fantasy cruise in the Caribbean.

"Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said in a statement.

"This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley issued a statement of his own, calling Weaver "a beloved Baltimore legend."

"Though we will miss him dearly," O'Malley's statement said in part, "he will always be remembered for his passion for baseball and his spirited dedication to the Orioles and the City of Baltimore."

A lifelong minor-leaguer as a player, Weaver took the helm of the Orioles midway through the 1968 season after a season-and-a-half as the club's first base coach. Over the next 14 seasons, Weaver led Baltimore to six 100-win seasons, six American League Eastern Division titles, four American League pennants, and a World Series title in 1970. Along the way, the Orioles developed a regional following and became D.C.'s de facto baseball team between the departure of the Senators in 1971 and the arrival of the Nationals in 2005.

After spending two years out of the dugout as a consultant to the Orioles and a broadcaster for ABC, Weaver returned as Orioles manager in the middle of the 1985 season. In his final season, 1986, Baltimore finished 73-89, Weaver's only losing campaign.

Strategically, Weaver was best known for forgoing common baseball tactics like the sacrifice bunt, stolen base, and hit-and-run. "If you play for one run, that's all you'll get," was a saying commonly attributed to him.

Emotionally, Weaver set a new standard for umpire arguments, as he was ejected from over 90 games over the course of his managerial career. Common features of Weaver's temper tantrums were kicking dirt, turning his hat backward to get as close to an umpire as possible without making contact, and ample use of profanity.

Weaver was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. He finished his career with a record of 1,480 wins and 1,060 losses (.583 winning percentage).

Photo Credit: AP

NL East: Braves could hire Bud Black if they fire manager Gonzalez

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NL East: Braves could hire Bud Black if they fire manager Gonzalez

How weird would this be?

The Atlanta Braves are not likely to keep manager Fredi Gonzalez around long with the team holding the worst record in baseball through 26 games, and a new report has Bud Black as the prohibitive favorite to replace him. That's Bud Black, as in the guy who nearly became the Nats' manager this past winter before they turned to Dusty Baker.

Choosing Baker has proven to be smart so far as the Nats are atop the NL East after a month of games, but Black isn't expected to be sitting out long. If he were to land in Atlanta, that could make for some interesting matchups between the teams and debates among those who had strong opinions about either candidate during the Nats hiring process.

 

Kirs Letang speaks on Game 4 suspension at morning skate

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Kirs Letang speaks on Game 4 suspension at morning skate

PITTSBURGH -- Quick hits from Wednesday’s morning skates here at Consol Energy Center:

Soccer for Mojo: Caps left wing Marcus Johansson (upper body injury) did not participate in the Capitals’ optional morning skate but he was seen playing soccer in the hallway with forward T.J. Oshie and defenseman Matt Niskanen.

Johansson left Game 3 after taking an open-ice check from Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, but returned to the game and saw 18:20 of ice time while recording nine hits.

Letang’s take: Letang said he “respects” the NHL’s decision to suspend him for tonight’s Game 4 for his hit on Johansson. 

“The game is fast and I respect their decision and I have no other choice,” Letang said. “I tried to step on the guy. There’s no malicious intention there.”

The Penguins went 2-8-1 without Letang in the lineup this season. 

“It’s going to be tough (to watch),” he said. “We’ve been battling through (injuries) all year long. We missed Geno (Evgeni Malkin) for a long stretch. Guys were banged up all year long. Guys stepped up and guys will rise to the occasion.”  

Sestito in?: With Bryan Rust sidelined with a lower body injury, the Penguins the Penguins recalled 6-foot-5, 228-pound left wing Tom Sestito, who told reporters he has been told to be ready to play tonight. Sestito had 104 penalty minutes in 41 games for AHL Wilkes-Bare Scranton.

“I just need to finish my hits, play hard, play physical,” Sestito said. “People are going to be hitting everybody. Maybe the hands slip out (for a fight) maybe they don’t. But I’ll be out there dishing them out the same.”

Nats Stock Watch: What's wrong with Bryce Harper?

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Nats Stock Watch: What's wrong with Bryce Harper?

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see which player's stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 4-3

Team slash: .221/.275/.385

Team ERA: 2.44

Runs per game: 3.57

 

STOCK UP  

Daniel Murphy, 2B: .333 AVG, 5 RBI, .889 OPS

So it's been a month now, and Murphy has shown no signs of slowing down yet. Is this just who he is? Time will tell, but the longer his hot streak keeps going, the more inclined the Nats are to believe this might be the real deal. If so, they might have gotten one of the best bargains of the offseason. 

Murphy now leads the team with a 1.044 OPS on the season, and is second only to Bryce Harper with 15 extra-base hits. Ever since he changed his approach late last year with the Mets — crowding the plate more and focusing on pulling the ball rather than going the other way — it seems he's become a different hitter, and one opposing pitchers have had a tough time adjusting to. Can he really keep this up?

Max Scherzer, SP: 1-0, 0 ER, 9 K, 0 BB

Now that's the Max Scherzer Nats fans remember. After scuffling in a few of his previous starts, Washington's ace looked like himself against the Cardinals, tossing seven shutout frames while striking out nine batters and walking none. With the rest of the rotation in a groove right now, Scherzer picked a good time to find his early-2015 form. 

STOCK DOWN 

Bryce Harper, RF: .077 AVG, 13 K, .277 OPS

After winning NL Player of the Month for a spectactular April, who'd have thought Harper would find himself listed here in the first week of May? That's baseball, and it shows that even the best players in the game aren't immune to a slump or two. That said, Harper's mired in the type of funk we haven't seen from him in quite some time: He has just one hit in his last 23 at-bats, has struck out 13 times in the last week alone compared to four walks. And in the last nine games, his batting average has fallen from .323 to .256. Ouch.

Harper will start hitting again, probably sooner rather than later. But with the rest of the lineup starting to get on track, it'd be nice to see what this offense could be if he starts looking like the reigning MVP. 

Jonathan Papelbon, RP: 0-1, BS, 2.18 WHIP

Papelbon blew his second save of the young season Tuesday night in Kansas City, a frightening sight for Nats fans who are worried their closer may not be reliable. The 35-year-old reliever is still 9-of-11 in save opportunities, and while that's the most important metric, there are a few other things to consider.

The phrase du jour about Papelbon these days is how he's "not missing bats" the way he did earlier in his career. That's true; per Fangraphs, his induced swing-and-miss percentage this season is at 8.3, down from 12.4 in 2015. One of the probable reasons for the decline is because his average fastball velocity has steadily fallen from 94.8 mph in 2011 to 90.8 this year. As a result, his strikeout numbers down, making him eminently more hittable. He's allowed base runners eight of his 13 outings, so even when he does earn a save, he usually doesn't pitch a clean inning.