Positives, negatives and neutrals

July 02, 2009 | Keith Melchior

I have been accused of doing nothing but bashing and being totally negative about the Orioles this season and for the last few years. So, I thought I’d celebrate MY independence and share some of the positive, yes  positive things about the Orioles. In the interest of being totally objective and fair, I am also going to share the negative and neutral feelings I have as well.

THE POSITIVES:

Brad Bergesen.. He definitely has emerged as the ace of the staff

Adam Jones…. He came into spring training with an energy that carried over into the first 2 months of the season. He HAS to be the Orioles representative in the All-Star game….Eric who?

Luke Scott… the type DH we have needed since Harold Baines

Nolan Reimold… a welcome addition to the outfield. Ranks tops amongst rookies. If he has a solid 2nd half he should be rookie of the year.

Jim Johnson, Matt Albers, Brian Bass….all 3 have done the job when called upon. Yes they have hit some speed bumps but are performing more often than not.

Nick Markakis… a slump came at the wrong time, but he is a force in the outfield and leads the league in outfield assists. He will bounce back in 2nd half.

Brian Roberts… A big contract hasn’t slowed him down. One of the top ledoff batters in the league and has singlehandedly won a few games with his speed and timely hits.

Matt Wieters…. The team chose not to have him here on opening day because of the service time issue. Fans are waiting for him to develop into the “savior of the franchise”  Hopefully the 2nd half he’ll tear the cover off the ball like he did in the minors. A definite upgrade from Zaun.

Ty Wigginton…Accepted his role and has produced when called upon. Perfect utility player with a little pop.

THE NEUTRALS:

Jeremy Guthrie… he has yet to emerge as the true ace and needs to have a better 2nd half. LAst year the team wasn’t scoring runs for him, this year he has fallen behind too often in early innings.

George Sherrill….Puts too many runners on base, but was pretty much money the last month. We’re approaching  the time when he melted down last season and had to be shut down due to being overworked. I think he’s trade bait.

Cesar Izturis, Robert Andino… Both are better than what the Orioles had at SS last season. Still need to see some improvement in the ablity to get on base from these two. Neither has hurt the team that much in the field. If they can get on base for the top of the order it’s a huge bonus.

Danys Baez… Hasn’t been too bad coming back from an injury but has been good at times and bad at times. Trade bait if a team is desperate for  middle relief help.

Aubrey Huff… Power numbers are down and some feel he peaked too early in the season. If he is still here after July 31st fans can hope he doesn’t get hot the 2nd half of the season since he is a free agent. He’ll cost the team too much to re-sign.

Jason Berken, David Hernandez….Both showing some grit and guts after getting called up to fill in the rotation. They still need to learn how to get major league hitters out consistently. Hopefully they’ll continue to grow in the 2nd half.

Mark Hendrickson…He looks more comfortable as the left-handed middle man.

Andy McPhail…. He made 2 seemingly great trades with Houston and Seattle. Other than that he hasn’t done much to help the team. If he has carte blanche from ownership, he needs to prove it to the fans and go spend a little money for some better quality players and not count on retreads to fill roster spots while waiting on the future.

The Future:  This phrase has Orioles fan chomping at the bit. The young arms are coming, but when they arrive, who will be the ace of the staff, who will be the closer, and who will be the manager. Fans cannot put all the eggs in one basket and hope that Tillman, Matusz, Arietta can continue developing  in the minors then step right in and become 20 game winners. Odds say that maybe 1 of the 3 will be that player that breaks through the barrier instantly. It would be nice to see that trio become the 2nd coming of Maddox, Glavine and Smoltz.. It’s a lot to hope for and a big risk. Time will tell. 

THE NEGATIVES;

Melvin Mora – Power numbers are down. He was already on the DL. Another trip could spell his demise. I think he’s a free agent after this season so trading him for a mid-range prospect isn’t entirely ruled out.

Felix Pie… Advertised as a 5 tool player. He never seemed to make the adjustment to playing almost everyday in April and is an option as a pinch runner in the late innings. Lately he has been busting his butt to try to make an impression. He is young and has a lot to learn about major league baseball.

Koji Uehara… Excitement over his first start and win over the Yankees turned into a weak arm, weak hamstring and 2 trips to DL. He simply does not have the endurance to be a starter. He has proven one thing, he was a waste of money.

Chris Ray… meltdown after meltdown hurting his chances to emerge as the closer or set up man again. But he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery. He should be in Norfolk all season to develop into the closer should Sherrill be traded.

Gregg Zaun… He started the season batting .091 and although on a recent hitting tear as a part time player, he still looks overmatched at times. That proved he was not an everyday catcher anymore.  He will probably retire as a backup to Wieters and help him develop his skills.

Dave Trembley… In his 2nd full season as manager. When he replaced Perlozzo he promised a return to fundamentals and showed a fire and determination to lead the Orioles back into the winning ways. He will be remembered as the manager of a team that lost 30-3 and a team that came back from 9 runs down to beat the Red Sox. Other than those two “defining moments”,  Trembley has as much personality and grit as a cardboard cutout.

11 and possibly a 12th losing season… Losing is the most negative thing about this team. When veteran guys like Huff, Roberts, Jones, Markakis and Guthrie  have not experienced  playing meaningful games after August 1st, how can they be an example to the younger players, with the exception of being as positive and helpful as they can. Losing is contagious and the Orioles have proven they know how to lose. They need to learn how to win and build confidence so that winning may once again become as contagious as the losing has been.

 

So there you have it…Regardless of what manypeople think, I am not totally negative about the Orioles. Call it frustration over not seeing the team in the post-season but 3 times in the last 26 years. That’s more than half my life. It is time to return to the promised land of post season play, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If the same pattern of losing continues into 2011 and 2012, there will be more reasons to become negative about the Orioles. How cool would it be to have BOTH the Ravens and Orioles be winners year in and year out?

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