Rob Long: What’s Missing?
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The Baltimore Orioles have some weaknesses, but we can all agree they aren’t a bad team, they just aren’t a complete team.
If you look at the 2013 season for what it’s been, we’ve watched a team that has enough to contend, but not enough to finish. They have decent pitching as a whole staff, but not enough good pitching. They have good hitters, but not enough good hitters.
Over the next month, you’ll hear a lot about this team. Some of it will good, some of it will be bad. Most of what you’ll hear will be based emotion. Let’s take emotion out of it. This is a good baseball team. They have some good pieces to start with, but it’s just that. It’s just a start. This team isn’t a finished product by a long shot.
The O’s are good at on the corners, assuming they keep Manny Machado at the corner. While J.J. Hardy is as good as they come up the middle, he will be 32 years old when his contract is up. What’s the longterm plan with him?
Is Nate McLouth the answer in left field. My opinion on him has changed for the better but he’s batting .180 in August and after stealing 24 bases by the end of June, he’s slowed down to compile four since then. Although he’s 31 years old, he still seems to be the organization’s best option, but is that good enough?
While Adam Jones is a slam dunk in center, there have been lots of questions surrounding one of my all-time favorite Orioles, Nick Markakis.
I’ve defended Nick’s lack of power but it’s becoming more difficult to do so lately. Forget about home runs, Markakis has only had two extra-base hits since the start of July and they were doubles. To add to that, he’s only 17 runs batted in since the end of May. Markakis is a Gold Glove caliber outfielder but you can argue that the team needs more pop from him. He doesn’t have to hit 25 homers but he needs 30 doubles and he has to drive in more runs.
If the asking price for Matt Wieters is six years/$120 million, that’s too much. However, if the numbers are more reasonable, you have to resign him to be your rock behind the plate. The team shouldn’t have to chose between he and Davis, but if they can afford both, you take both. Wieters’ average is unacceptable, but I’m sure he feels that way as well. With that being said, he hits 20 home runs every year and drives in 70 runs and that’s decent for his position but his other offensive numbers aren’t good at all. Wieters is certainly a catcher you could win with, but at the right price.
The pitching is the key. Looking at the five-man rotation tells the story. Where’s the number one? You could argue Chris Tillman or Wei-Yin Chen which means there’s no clear cut number one. Both guys are top of the rotation pitchers, but are they number ones? This rotation is full of questions and not enough answers.
Yes, there’s something missing in Birdland these days. It could turn at the drop of a dime, but it isn’t looking good right now.