After a quiet few days, the Baltimore sports scene picked up in a hurry Saturday, beginning with the Ravens retaining cornerback Chris Carr.
The Ravens signed the veteran cornerback to a four-year contract, solidifying the defensive backfield and bringing back a player very familiar with their schemes and terminology.
The Ravens are likely set now at cornerback and will turn their attention to improving other positions. Osi Umenyiora has already ended his holdout and reported to training camp with the New York Giants, but he will not rescind his trade demand. There is still a chance the Ravens might be able to pry him away from the Giants, but their focus will likely turn to a new contract for Haloti Ngata over the next few days.
Interestingly, the Oakland Raiders backed away from a contract with offensive lineman Jared Gaither, possibly over injury concerns with his back. It’s not likely, but it’s looking more possible now that Gaither may end up back with the Ravens, at least for a year. If you are Gaither, wouldn’t it make sense to sign a cheap, one-year deal with Baltimore and prove yourself healthy and one of the best tackles in football? That would set him up to get a big deal next year from some NFL team.
As for the Orioles, they made a couple of solid trades before the deadline at 4 p.m. Sunday. The O’s sent Koji Uehara to the Texas Rangers for two major leaguers and Derrek Lee to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a Single-A prospect.
I was particularly impressed with the Koji trade. The Orioles turned a old, injury-prone reliever into a first base prospect and quality arm. The trade is certainly a risk as first baseman Chris Davis has raked in Triple-A but always struggled when making the jump to the majors, but maybe a change of scenery is all he needs. Pitcher Tommy Hunter has been better out of the bullpen and has some conditioning issues, but he gives the Orioles an arm they can immediately toss into the rotation.
The Orioles also received a first baseman in the Lee trade, acquiring Aaron Baker from the Pirates. Baker, 23, is putting up pretty solid numbers in Single-A and will likely begin next year at Double-A Bowie.
Baltimore is not expected to make any more trades before the deadline, which is somewhat disappointing. It would have been nice to have dealt Jeremy Guthrie for a couple of good prospects, but it looks like the market for starting pitching has cooled off significantly.
As for the O’s on the field, after taking the first of four games from the New York Yankees Friday night, the tables turned in a hurry on Saturday. The O’s blew an early lead in an 8-3 loss to the Yankees in Game 1 of the doubleheader, then gave up 12 runs in the first inning en route to an embarassing 17-3 loss in the nightcap.
Chris Tillman started the first game and did show a significant bump in velocity, but his lack of control really came back to haunt him. The more I see him pitch, the more I am convinced he will never amount to anything. He hasn’t pitched well in the majors for two years now. Zach Britton was even worse in the nightcap, but I wasn’t particularly surprised because he struggled after being sent down to Bowie. I’m much less concerned about Britton, who will eventually be a very good starter for the Orioles.