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Running down a nightmare…

Posted By Ron Burr On Jul 21 2009 @ 7:54 pm In Baltimore Orioles | No Comments

Tom Petty leads us into the great wide open issue that might just cost Dave Trembley his job…

The Orioles lost last night by a score of 2-1.  Hideki Matsui hit a walk off home run off of Jim Johnson.  But that wouldn't have happened if the Orioles wouldn't stop screwing up on the basepaths.

There is a classic YouTube clip of Earl Weaver on the Manager's Corner radio show where he fields a question on why the Orioles don't have more team speed (it was an in joke between Earl and the host and was never meant to air, but it was saved and became an internet sensation.  It is EXTREMELY NSFW, but if you want to hear it, go to YouTube and search “Manager's Corner”.  It is worth it).  In between all the beeps and boops, you get to one of the core philosophies of Earl Weaver, not giving up an out.  It is a valid point, and while it isn't exactly what he was talking about, last night's bottom of the 8th inning performance when the Orioles made *2* outs in a row at home was just inexcusable, and is really a condemnation of Dave Trembley, and it might be what has him relaxing at home next summer.

The team has been horrible on the basepaths this year, running into outs, getting caught unaware…it is like they get on base and their brains shut off.  Why Izturis was looking behind the play instead of at 3rd base coach Juan Samuel for his baserunning cues is beyond my ability to comprehend.  He could very well have scored on Brian Roberts' double, but his hesitation and doubling back (and almost passing Roberts on the basepaths) was not only unprofessional, it was downright Pee Wee league.  The problem is that this is not an isolated incident, and it is not an Izturis issue.  Jones, Huff, Mora…it seems like every other game someone is on base and makes a boneheaded mistake.

It isn't like the team is lacking in coaches with base running knowledge.  John “T-Bone” Shelby is at 1st, and Juan Samuel is at 3rd.  When you consider that Samuel had 396 career steals (and was the first player in MLB history to have double digit doubles, triples, home runs AND stolen bases in each of his first 4 seasons – and came within 1 triple of making it 5 straight), including 53 in 1985 and 72 in 1984, the man knows how to run the basepaths.  So either they aren't listening to him, or they are being told to not heed his advice.  Neither of these options are particularly appealing.

When Trembley took over, he instituted things like taking infield practice before the 1st gameof every series in order to reinforce the fundamentals.  One of the reasons I believed he was the right man for the job as it stands now is hishistory of success in the minor leagues, and his dedication to playing smart, sound baseball.  These baserunning gaffes are the antithesis of smart, sound baseball.  I have to believe that MacPhail's public statement that he plans on waiting a little longer than he has in the past to decide on the fate of the manager (as opposed to his removing the interim tag and extending Trembley's contract in July the past couple of years, he is going to wait until later in the season.  August is a definite possibility, as is waiting until after the season to evaluate and make his final call on who has a job in 2010).  I have never thought this season was going to come down to wins and losses (as I have said many times here and elsewhere), but I will say that if the team goes through a late season swoon (anyone else remember the 4-32 finish a few years ago?) I think Trembley will be a goner.  And if they do not figure out how to not make stupid, bush league mistakes on the basepaths, well, I think Dave will make one hell of a color man for some team's broadcast booth.

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