Well, those good feelings didn’t last too long.
Fresh off of a 3 game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles go into The House That Avarice Built and get swept by the New York Yankees.
And so, before the O’s went to Minnesota to take on the Twins in a 4 game set, MacPhail decided to let us (and the team) know, in no uncertain terms, that this lack of run support will not stand. To quote…
“While you can give them some allowance for the quality of pitching that we’ve faced, our patience isn’t inexhaustible. There is going to come a time where we’re going to be obligated to keep making changes in terms of offensive personnel, and they’re going to get the opportunity to head to [AAA] Norfolk and hone their swings because they’re not doing anything to help us now.
“I would say there isn’t a great deal of time left before they have to start doing more than what they’re doing now. I’m not staying with them forever. It’s not a suicide pact. They either have to start performing or they’ll go to Norfolk.”
Well, I am sure am glad to hear that there won’t be any mass suicides in The Warehouse any time soon. The problem is who would they send to AAA, and who would they bring up?
I am not faulting MacPhail for the off season acquisitions. There was not a bumper crop of heavy hitters to choose from, especially on a team that is still rebuilding, and that has prospects at the corner positions that they have every intention of seeing in orange and black in the very near future. The biggest bat out there was Matt Holliday, and not only was he not leaving the protection of playing with the greatest player in he game right now in Albert Pujols, he plays the outfield, where the Orioles are already overcrowded. It wasn’t a good fit. So he looked at what was there and signed Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada. Atkins has been hitting reasonably well (around .275 last time I checked), but has not hit for any power at all, and you need 1st base to provide some pop. Tejada has played better than could have been reasonably expected, both at the plate and in the field.
That leaves the returning players. Obviously, Adam Jones has been a disappointment in the batter’s box. Nick Markakis has been coming around after a slow start. Nolan Reimold has been off, and I don’t think he is as recovered from the Achilles’ injury as the club has led everyone to believe. Matt Wieters has not been producing consistently. The injuries to Brian Roberts and Felix Pie have been analyzed to death, and while their impact on the batting order shouldn’t be dismissed, it falls on the team to respond to the inevitable injuries that happen to every team. Ty Wigginton has been the only real bright spot in an otherwise overcast offensive outlook. The biggest problem is going to be getting him at bats.
And then there is Luke Scott.
Of the players mentioned, Reimold is the only real candidate to get back on the bus circuit. Tejada is going nowhere, and Atkins can refuse the assignment, get waived, keep all the money, and try to pick up with a team that could use a 1st/3rd baseman at the league minimum (with the Orioles on the hook for the balance of his contract). Wieters is part of The Franchise, along with Markakis and Jones. They go nowhere. Lou Montanez is up right now, but he is most likely trade bait as soon as Pie is back and feeling healthy.
And then there is Luke Scott.
The facts are simple. Scott is known as a very streaky hitter, but so far his streaks have been all cold. I mentioned his ineptness in a previous post, and he really does look lost up there. Now, remember the corner infield prospects I mentioned before? Neither is hitting all that well at AAA (Josh Bell is hitting .255, w/ an OPS of .751 and Brandon Snyder is at .191 BA and .559 OPS. Not exactly lights out time). The best hitter we currently have at Norfolk is Corey Patterson (remember him?), who is hitting .361/.784 BA/OPS. Of course, he is a major league veteran and not on an injury assignment, so he should be doing well against AAA pitchers. The best hitter we’ve had in the minors is currently not in the minors, and that is Rhyne Hughes. And he is doing reasonably well in limited action, but again, he is not the second coming of Boog Powell.
Scott is on his last legs here. He doesn’t play in the outfield (average defensively at best), and while that might be bothering him a bit (many players hate to DH because they can’t get into the game if they only play every 2 or 3 innings), it is no excuse for striking out more than I did trying to get a prom date. Not to mention that he is, if I recall correctly, in the last year of his contract, so that the dead money isn’t too big of a hit on the bottom line. The way I see it, as soon as Pie or Roberts is ready to come off the DL (and while Pie is on the 60 day and Roberts is on the 15, it is a toss up as to which comes back first. And I am right now going to put the over/under on articles on Roberts returning at all this season and/or ever at July 1st. If there is no definitive answer on his status by then, all hell is going to break loose on this topic. You heard it here first), Scott is gone. Possibly sooner if he doesn’t show some signs of life, like maybe hitting into outs instead of swinging into them. Patterson is not on the 40 man roster, but if Scott is waived there will be an opening that he could fill capably. Hughes would probably get the lion’s share of at bats at DH, with Wigginton getting a breather once in a while by playing there and letting Julio Lugo play 2nd. I suppose Robert Andino would be an option, but technically Scott is an outfielder, so Patterson makes more sense. Not to mention Patterson has a little power in his swing. Andino not so much. So my prediction here is that Luke Scott is going to be a former Oriole by the end of the month. And the next on the chopping block?
I know I just said a few paragraphs up that he wouldn’t get sent down to the minors because he could refuse the assignment and be a free agent. But there is a big difference between refusing demotion and being waived and being cut outright (for a former “player to be named later” in Rhyne Hughes at that). Not that someone still wouldn’t pick him up, but teams would think a bit more about it first. Look at it this way, if you couldn’t make it on the Orioles because of offensive ineptitude, and you are not known for your defense, who is going to rush out to sign you? Probably the Colorado Rockies when they cut Melvin Mora, who has almost identical stats, but isn’t a fan known name like Atkins is. This isn’t as definite, in fact I put it at about 30-40% of even happening. But it could. And I would like to be able to claim “Firsties” on this one if it does happen.
About the Author
Written by Ron Burr
Ron is a lifelong resident of Maryland and has been a passionate player and fan of sports for as long as he can remember. When he is not watching the games or explaining to his lovely wife why he is cursing at the television, he runs an improv/sketch comedy troupe, Drop Three. He can't hit a curveball or run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, but he knows the games and loves talking about it with anyone. Differing opinions are welcome and encouraged!