I am a believer in the Orioles. There I said it. I have been putting it off throughout the season because I didn’t want to get my heart broken again, but look at them! They are in second place in the A.L. East (the toughest division in baseball, if not all of sports); only 2.5 games behind the Yankees. And they own the first wildcard spot. It seems every series we say, “Oh, this will show a lot about the team if they can win this series” and they do. They have proven time and time again that they can do it.
There are two things that the Orioles can do at this point. They can stand pat and see how the season unfolds…or they can be aggressive and go after players like Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano, who have been rumored as possible targets for the team.
The franchise owes it to the fans to at least try. Just show some effort towards making a run at this thing. The team now is only a few pieces away.
Brian Roberts’ return was much needed and has added a proven lead-off hitter to the lineup. In only 11 games back from having not played in over year he is batting .250 with an on base percentage of .292. These numbers should only improve as he gets back into the swing of things but they are already better than Robert Andino who was the everyday second basemen till Roberts came back.
Nick Markakis returning to the lineup soon is also very encouraging. The Orioles will get a much needed spark in an offense that has been somewhat anemic lately. Once Markakis returns, the Orioles would be best be served to bat him in the two spot and move Hardy down to the five. Hardy’s OBP is lower than previous years but his power numbers are still pretty decent. He would be best fitted to drive in runs lower in the order rather than relying on him to get on base, at the 2 spot, which he simply has not done on a consistent basis this year.
With the news of Nolan Reimold likely being done for the season, left field now becomes a whole that needs to be addressed by some other means. This is where a trade for Alfonso Soriano would do wonders. While he isn’t what he once was, he is still better than any option we currently have. He is batting .273 with a .326 OBP, which is better than anyone who we have thrown out there this year. Not to mention how fun it would be for me to watch him play in person. He has always been one of my favorite players.
(Side note: I feel bad for Adam Jones at this point. With Nick Markakis being hurt the last couple of weeks, he has had a myriad of players out there next to him. It seems like it’s someone different every day. I wouldn’t even blame him for not bothering to learn their names. If they traded for Soriano they would have an everyday outfield. Barring any further injuries.)
Outside of Hammel and Chen, the Orioles starting pitching has been a dice roll this year. Matusz has shown improvement but in my opinion still shouldn’t be on a major league roster and Arietta has been painful to watch more often than not. This is where a Matt Garza would do wonders. Having a proven, consistent pitcher such as him could stabilize an otherwise tumultuous rotation. He is posting the lowest WHIP of his career at 1.091 and his lowest BB/9 innings total as well at 2.5. Having another quality starter would also benefit the bullpen in the long run. Matt Garza can be used in a Jeremy Guthrie type role where, at the very least, he can out there and give you six or seven solid innings.
The corner infield spots have frustrating so far this year. Betemit and Reynolds are downright awful fielders (a combined .886 fielding percentage…excuse me while I throw up) and haven’t made it easy to keep them in there either, with their below average performances at the plate. Watching Reynolds strike out is glorious at times though, so there’s that. Chris Davis is mired in a slump at the plate which isn’t encouraging for one of the most consistent hitters on the team at this point. Hopefully they will get it together on the field and their bats will start heating up because there aren’t many options out there to address this problem. I suggest throwing Betemit into a trade at the deadline for one of my earlier suggestions and putting Andino at third and Reynolds at DH. I simply cannot bear to watch Reynolds try to field and throw a baseball ever again.
Of course, all this is predicated on whether Duquette can convince Mr. Angelos to pull the trigger on some of these deals. The only sure fire way the Orioles are going to be able to pull off trades are if there is some cash thrown in. They just do not have the depth in the minor leagues to be giving up many players.
I think Duquette has earned our trust at this point. Whether he has gotten lucky with some of these moves or he knew what was going to happen, remains to be seen. I hope for the teams sake he continues to make himself look like a genius though. Wouldn’t it be fun to see the O’s in the playoffs again, or at the very least playing meaningful games in September?