It’s been an up and down first half of the season for the Baltimore Orioles. After a fast start, recently the team has been looking somewhat like the Orioles of past years. In the last 20 games or so, quality pitching and timely hitting have been at a minimum. The formula the Orioles used during their hot start has started to unravel after injuries and just simply poor play has plagued them. Injuries to Nick Markakis, Endy Chavez, and Nolan Reimold have decimated the outfield, leaving Adam Jones the lone staple.
The Orioles are right on the line between irrelevance and contention. There are problems that need to fixed and there are ways to do it. At this point it’s a matter of trying. Both with the players and the front office.
Since his new contract extension back on May 26th, Adam has completely dropped off in production. Batting a mere .260 in June and July, it seems as though Adam has almost phoned it in at this point. He doesn’t hustle down the line or after foul balls near as much and just isn’t having many quality at bats. Adam needs to put his money where his twitter feed is and start hitting the ball and not just talk about it.
The trade for Jim Thome hasn’t worked out very well either. He is batting a measly .238 since joining the team with zero homeruns; the main reason we traded for him.
The stellar starting pitching during the first part of the year has all but disappeared at this point, with three of the original five starters not even at the major league level anymore (Matusz, Arrieta, Hunter). Clearly if the Orioles want to stay in contention they need to trade for an elite arm like Zach Grienke or trade for a couple of quality arms like Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster. I personally would trade anyone except Bundy and Machado (especially after their Futures Game performances) for Grienke. He is a great pitcher who I think the Orioles could easily sign to a longer deal. He has said he likes the small market teams better because he isn’t much of a media guy.
Anyone who has stepped up to play third base has been simply downright awful defensively. Buck Showalter has resorted to putting Robert Andino there but what you make up defensively with him, you give up on the offensive end. There aren’t many, if any solutions out there for this problem at this point. Padres Chase Headley has been a rumor but they clearly want too much in return for him. This is probably just going to be a hole the O’s will have to deal with for the rest of the season.
Brian Roberts’s return was a great story, but that’s about all it really was. His average is down to .182 and is still without an extra base hit. Yes, that’s right, he doesn’t even have ONE. This is clearly not the production that you need out of your lead-off hitter.
Nick Markakis should be returning to the lineup after the All Star Break which should bring some much needed stability to the lineup. For what it’s worth, he hit two, two run homeruns during his Friday rehab start with AA Bowie. If anything, it’s encouraging to say the least. His return would allow Davis to move to left field which is more suited for his abilities in Camden Yards.
With all this said, the team is still five games above .500 at 45-40 and a manageable 6.5 games behind the Yankees for first place in the A.L. East. While there are clear problems on this team, they can be fixed by simply caring about how well the team does. If the front office wants to make something out of this year, then they will go for it and trade for some legitimate pieces. If not, the team will simply fall into irrelevance