I’m not sure how to put any of this nicely. I think you all know by now I am a straight-shooter, especially when it comes to the Orioles. I know I said the O’s would not compete this year and Andy MacPhail didn’t make the right moves to help this club, but I honestly didn’t think it would be this bad. I actually picked them to win 83 games and finish a hair over .500 — that was the optimist in me — but it’s apparent that is not going to happen.
My two concerns right now are not the players — well, of course the players are the ones who have to play the game so they are to blame — but I’m worried about the coaches, in particular the pitching coaches, and the scouting and development people, whoever and however many that may be.
If you take a look at the number of Brian Matusz and Zach Britton, their numbers significantly declined after pitching coach Mark Connor resigned. Rick Adair, who was promoted to pitching coach from bullpen coach, should be held somewhat accountable for what’s happening to these kids. I do agree with the move to send Britton down to Bowie to work with his old coach. Unfortunately, it’s too late to bring Kranitz back to talk to Matusz.
We’ve seen Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman fail to succeed in the Majors, and in turn get demoted to Triple-A, and we’ve seen Jason Berken at one point hit his low point. Thankfully, Berken is back at the Major League level and appears to have returned to form. Hopefully, a trip to the minors will have the same result for Matusz.
Jake Arrieta, who’s dealing with a sore right elbow, at some point will have to get his injury taken care of. The question isn’t if he will, the question is when he will.
Jeremy Guthrie… He’s always been a bit of a mystery to me. I think Jeremy is a solid No. 2 or No. 3 pitcher. He’s not the Ace of the staff. He’s just not. If he was, the O’s wouldn’t have brought in Kevin Millwood last year to push Guthrie down to No. 2 in the rotation. I will say this until I am blue in the face… this team NEEDS an Ace. They need a No. 1 starter (if not two) to bolster this rotation… followed by the kids: Matusz, Britton and Arrieta. Not necessarily in that order. If they need to trade for them, so be it. Otherwise, the organization has got to open up their wallet and sign a BIG TIME arm to come here and help turn this organization around. And the sooner the better.
Derrek Lee, although he hit two home runs over the weekend in Boston, will most likely not be returning after the season, and Mark Reynolds, who leads the league in errors but also leads third basemen (and the team) in home runs, is here for another year. I had no problem with the Reynolds signing, but Lee… well he was just a one-year rental. My take on Lee is that his clubhouse leadership is his best asset, not to mention him being a large target at first base.
JJ Hardy has been tremendous, especially filling in for Brian Roberts at leadoff. One can only hope MacPhail ties him up for the next few years.
Left field is a major issue — I did not like the fact that Luke Scott was penciled in to be the starter. I did not think he would hit another 27 home runs. Of course nobody could predict his injury but 2010 was most definitely his best season. Adam Jones, in my opinion, is the real All Star this season and Nick Markakis, who started off slow, has been everything we expected although his extra-base hits are few and far between. People jumped all over me like animals when I suggested Andy should take a look at Melky Cabrera who is batting .293 for the Atlanta Braves with 11 home runs, 51 RBI, 23 doubles, three triples and 12 stolen bases. Looking back, that would have been more than an upgrade
Matt Wieters, who as you all know I wasn’t a big fan of coming into the season, (please note, last year was the first full year I got to see him — and of course it was his down year) has been outstanding defensively and I have a new-found respect for the kid. His numbers with RISP were beyond admirable but unfortunately, they have since declined. Then again, not many people are getting on base.
I respect Buck Showalter and think he’s doing a great job with the cards he’s dealt… I just feel bad for you the fans who were so hopeful (and rightfully so) coming into the season only to be disappointed once again.
The O’s are now 18 games back in the AL East — who has thrown in the towel?