1) Trembley announced that Craig Tatum will start at catcher, as opposed to the heavy favorite, Chad Moeller.
My Reaction: All along, I assumed that Moeller breaking camp as the backup was a given. I like Trembley’s comments about this being Wieter’s team, and him not needing a veteran mentor. Was the move more about that, or more about performance?
Tatum hit .227 in 22 AB’s, Moeller hit .300. Obviously, very small sample size, and they are going with Tatum because of his ability to catch and throw/work with the pitchers. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few pitchers said they liked throwing to Tatum and/or didn’t like throwing to Moeller.
This is a situation, where I will take Trembley’s word for it. Perhaps it is a sign to Wieters that it’s go time. Whatever the reason, I’m not concerned with this move; just surprised.
2) Jason Berken will start the year in the bullpen
My reaction: Love the move. Berken has the stuff and makeup to be a solid bullpen pitcher, that can pitch multiple innings, and be a spot starter type of guy. If Berken is going to be a successful major leaguer, it is going to be in the bullpen. Props to the O’s for starting him down that road now, as opposed to sending him back to AAA to serve as the 4th starter in their stacked rotation.
3) Felix Pie will be the starting LF on Opening Day.
My reaction: I am very happy about this, as I have been perhaps #1 on the play-Pie bandwagon. Pie overcame last season’s horrible mismanagement, and has shown enough talent and ability to make it impossible for Trembley to ignore him.
Now, part of the reason Pie is starting is because Nolan Reimold is still not 100%. That is fine; I am OK with them bringing Reimold along slowly.
However, the way I see this playing out, is Pie playing very well, doing many things that will force Trembley to keep him on the field. As Pie earns more playing time, he should get it. Pie should be in the lineup much more than he is not, and I believe that he will show that.
That playing time absolutely cannot come at the expense of Nolan Reimold.
Both of these guys need to be in there for the majority of games. Since I believe Tejada will be out there for 150+ games, the playing time is probably going to have to come at the expense of Garrett Atkins.
Now, Atkins is on a 1 year deal with an option, and is a reclamation project of sorts. Unless Atkins is going to come out of Sarasota having worked with Crowley, looking like a new player, it is going to take some time with him. I’m not sure at this point if it makes sense for the O’s future, to give Atkins a lot of consistent time in the lineup.
We will see how this plays out, but I think MacPhail may have to eat that signing a bit and put the future ahead of the present. If that happens though, it’s a great situation for the O’s moving forward, because it means the young guys are playing well. It just needs to work out where the young players with the most talent and the most future with the organization are playing. That has not always happened in years past.
4) Koji will likely open the year on the DL.
My reaction: I had high hopes for Koji coming out of the bullpen this year. He pitched great in ST in his appearances, and just seems to be a perfect late inning reliever to come in and get the job done, only 1 time through the order.
However, Koji has had some injury issues, and also, Trembley said that he is a bit reluctant to use Koji for more than one inning, saying he wants to make sure he is available later in the year.
Even if Koji pitches 2 innings 2-3 times a week, that is much less work than being a starter; I felt just by him moving to the pen, even if he pitched multiple innings at a time, that he would be preserved, but apparently that is not the case.
At this point, while I feel Koji would still be an asset in the ‘pen even as a 1 inning guy, I am not convinced that he will be able to avoid the injury bug for an extended period of time. When a guy sits out with allergies in Spring Training, at least a small red flag goes up in my mind.
The time is coming where I am going to look at Koji as a 30+ year old reliever in the last year of his contract with, with no future with the team, who can’t stay on the field. Hopefully I am proven wrong in that assessment.
5) Miguel Tejada will hit cleanup
My Reaction: Whatever. Obviously from Trembley’s comments, he sees either Wieters or Reimold as his cleanup hitter of the near future.
If these guys cannot handle being the cleanup hitter on Opening Day, are they really mentally tough enough to be successful long-term in the majors?
At some point, these guys need to stop being coddled. At some point, MacPhail can’t always rely on an inferior, less talented veteran presence in the rotation just so these guys have someone to look up to. This is why I am totally fine with the Tatum over Moeller move.
Now, lineups don’t mean that much, and do not have that much impact on the outcome of games. My problem is just with the notion that Wieters or Reimold are better suited for the #4 spot in the lineup, DT knows this, yet Tejada is the cleanup hitter.
Put your best lineup on the field, and if one of those guys struggled in the #4 spot or change their approach, then switch them out. They will get the message.
This being said, Tejada is no Jeff Conine and Kevin Millar. He can still be a productive hitter, and I expect a bit of resurgence for Miggi being back in Baltimore, surrounded by talented hitters.