Orioles latest tailspin isn’t as bad as you think

July 11, 2011 | Drew Forrester

OK, so the Birds have dropped 7 in a row.

And they’ve now lost 21 of their last 27.

Pitchers with golden arms are in the minors, battling control problems and such.

There is zero team speed on the roster.

And when they return from the All Star break, they play the Indians, Red Sox, Angels and Yankees to finish up the month of July.

This latest tailspin, punctuated by an embarrassing 4-game series in Boston where they were irked by Matt Albers and his decision to fist-pump after a couple of strike outs, isn’t nearly as bad as you think.

It’s not.

It’s MUCH worse than that.

A month or so ago, the Orioles were at 30-31 and battling for respectability in the AL East.

Today they’re 36-52 and their roster is in shambles.

When they were 30-31 and basically in just about every game night in and night out, I felt good about the prospects for a .500 finish at the end of September.

Now…today…based on what we’ve seen and with the current state of the team’s dugout — I’d say they’ll be hard pressed to win 70 games.  Simple math tells you they’ll have to go 34-40 over their last 74 games to hit the 70-win mark.  Come to think of it, it’s not so simple.

There’s no sense in beating them up for what has transpired over the last month.

Some of this is just the way it goes when you go into a regular season hinging your hopes on a pitching staff that, while young and promising, isn’t quite ready for prime time.  This is what happens when your marquee off-season pitching acquisition is a guy like Justin Duchscherer who hasn’t pitched much over the last two seasons and at $700,000 amounted to nothing more than a ballsy trip to the black jack table.  Come to think of it, you’d have a BETTER chance of cashing in on your investment at the black jack table.  But Andy MacPhail eschewed the common wisdom of signing a healthy, if unspectacular reliable veteran starter and gave $700,000 of free money to a guy with a bad hip and emotional problems and that move, now, has really come back to haunt the Orioles with their pitching staff in tatters.

I figured Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee would both be productive.  I was wrong.  Lee has at least been good with the glove, but neither have done what was expected at the plate.

Mark Reynolds has added some power, but he’s been dreadful with runners in scoring position and has recently gone back to his old strikeout ways with 15 k’s in his last 31 at bats.  And his glove – or one that works – didn’t make the trip from Arizona when he was acquired last December.

Those were the three key off-season offensive pick-ups and, in total, they’ve greatly underperformed.

The Brian Roberts injury-saga hasn’t helped, but J.J. Hardy has filled in quite well at the leadoff spot and could arguably be the team’s MVP through the first half of the season if not for missing a month due to his own injury.

In fairness to Buck Showalter (and Andy MacPhail), the Orioles haven’t really played with their full roster intact since the season kicked off in Tampa Bay back on April 1.  At one point or another, guys like Lee, Roberts, Hardy and Luke Scott have all missed time.  And Brian Matusz spent the first six weeks out of action.  Then we he did show up, he was terrible.

The Orioles had the chance during the recent 10-game road trip to cut into that deficit towards .500.  Instead, they labored through a 1-9 display that culminated in having the Red Sox beat them in every way imaginable.  And along the way, instead of getting mad about how poorly they’ve played, they whined and pissed and moaned about how the Boston players “watched their home runs leave the park” or “pumped their fist after a strike-out” or “didn’t run out a fly ball.”

This weekend was a disgrace.

Instead of occupying themselves with concern about that silly s**t, the Orioles should figure out how to NOT let David Ortiz hit a home run or how to get a hit off of Matt Albers so he wouldn’t fist-pump.

That’s what a real team would do.

Our team, though…

We spend time worrying about everything EXCEPT winning.

We worry about the budget, the payroll, the AL East, the other team fist pumping too much and anything else we can focus on besides what really matters – winning.

The Orioles were so worried about Matt Albers on Friday night they forgot the ultimate objective was to win a game on Saturday or Sunday.

They even have the announcers focused on other crap.  Rick Dempsey mentioned the heat in Atlanta, Texas and Boston during Saturday night’s post-game show…”I’m not making excuses for them, but it’s been awfully hot on this road trip.”

That’s how bad it is.

They’re now blaming the heat.

And you know what they say — if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

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