Hardy and Reynolds are key pieces of Orioles’ future

June 20, 2011 | Peter Dilutis

Speaking of strikeouts, Reynolds has cut down on the issue that generated the most publicity upon his arrival in Baltimore. After striking out 204, 223, and 211 times from 2008-2010, Reynolds is on pace for only 174 K’s in 2011.

Offensively, you know what you are going to get with Reynolds. You have to take the good with the bad, and though it is painful at times, you have to live with the strikeouts. I’ve been one of his biggest critics on Twitter, in the press box, and in my living room, but when I sit back and analyze his play with more perspective, it is easier to appreciate what this guy brings to an offense.

Clearly, his defense thus far has been unacceptable. Reynolds has made 15 errors so far on the season, which puts him on pace for 35. However, I feel like much of Reynolds’ problems are mental. He often makes errors on routine plays, and many times they have come in bunches. If I thought Reynolds was going to be this bad defensively over the next 2 1/2 years, there would be reason for concern. But much like Alex Rodriguez a few years ago, Reynolds has to get through this rough patch, and he will come out of it a better and more confident defender.

Reynolds certainly has the tools and he has shown an ability to make the spectacular play. He is a good athlete and he clearly has the talent to be a plus defender.

When one looks at the Orioles going forward, their record in 2011 isn’t really that important. The Orioles could go 85-77, but if they get to that point riding the shoulders of Vlad Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Luke Scott, and Jeremy Guthrie, their future really doesn’t look that much brighter.

The most important factor when analyzing the future of the Birds is to determine which players are solid pieces for the next 2-4 years. Which players are nuggets, and which are not going to be part of the next contending Orioles team.

The decline of Nick Markakis and the injury troubles of Brian Roberts have been so disappointing not just because of their lack of production this season, but because of the questions that are now created going forward; questions that were not really there heading into 2011, especially with Nick Markakis. The inability for Chris Tillman to establish himself at the major league level also falls into the category of long-term disappointments.

On the flip side, if Mark Reynolds can continue to produce while getting past this defensive funk, he will establish himself as a key piece of the puzzle going forward through 2013. J.J. Hardy will also be a huge piece going forward if the Orioles are able to extend him.