It was a bit crazy around Baltimore Tuesday with an earthquake rattling downtown buildings, including the stadiums, but that didn’t stop the two local teams from making some significant moves off the field.
The Baltimore Ravens signed troubled offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie to a two-year contract as they continue to look for ways to solidify a line that has been shaky at best through two preseason games.
McKinnie is a former Pro Bowler who was cut by the Minnesota Vikings when he failed his physical at the start of training camp. Reports have McKinnie weighing as much as 400 pounds, and considering his trouble past, it’s somewhat surprising the Ravens have gotten so desperate as to bring him aboard. They wanted nothing to do with Jared Gaither, who is a younger, thinner version of McKinnie.
The Baltimore Orioles also made an interesting move, designating outfielder Felix Pie for assignment and recalling outfielder Matt Angle from Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles have finally grown tired of Pie’s mental blunders on the diamond, and it doesn’t help that he has struggled at the plate this year as well.
It’s a disappointing situation given Pie’s immense, mostly untapped talent. A potential five-tool player, it looked like Pie may have turned the corner in the second half of last season. It seemed like a light bulb finally went off in his head, and the Orioles thought that they may have found a significant piece to a future contending club. Alas, Buck Showalter buried Pie on the bench to start the 2011 season, and it seemed that the outfielder lost confidence and interest while riding the pine.
At the very least, you would have thought Pie could have been the perfect fourth outfielder. He had the speed to be a good defensive replacement and a great pinch-runner, and the pop to pinch-hit.
If Showalter wasn’t going to give Pie at least somewhat regular playing time, cutting him loose was probably the smart thing to do. There is still the chance he clears waivers and ends up back in the team’s farm system, and it will also give the skipper a chance to get a good look at Angle.
Ironically, Angle actually projects as a similar type of fourth outfielder to Pie. Angle doesn’t have the pop in his bat that Pie has but he is a much smarter player. He has similar speed but is a much better base-stealer and is terrific defensively. He could really fit in well with the Orioles.
With the earthquake striking the city, both M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards were inspected to ensure that they were structurally sound and open for business for Thursday night’s preseason game and for a weekend series, respectively.