The Orioles are screwed up, but decision to demote Britton wasn’t

July 10, 2011 | Peter Dilutis

Is Zach Britton one of the Orioles’ five best pitchers? Absolutely.

Does he give the team a better chance to win than whoever will replace him in the rotation until he returns to Baltimore on July 30th? No doubt about it.

Why then, did Andy MacPhail and the rest of the decision makers in the organization decide to demote him to Bowie?

They can say what they want about wanting him to pitch in September. Buck can talk all he wants about how this is a good thing for Britton in an effort to keep his innings down.

We all know why this move was made. The Orioles all along have wanted to keep Britton down in the minors long enough for him to gain an extra year of service time, and recent events have given them an easy way to do it without it being 100 percent obvious to the casual fan.

Britton had perhaps the worst outing of any O’s starter in 2011. He hasn’t been pitching great as of late, although he hasn’t been bad. The All-Star break is coming, and Showalter can make the case, even if he is lying, that Britton wasn’t going to start until the fifth game after the break anyway.

Perhaps most importantly, the 2011 season is pretty much in the tank. I argued for Britton to be in the majors to start the season, even though I am a big believer in looking to the future with regards to service time, because I felt the team needed to make every possible effort to continue the momentum that they established in the second half of 2010 under Buck.

Britton helped the O’s win early in the season. He was a Rookie of the Year candidate. The decision to bring him up to fill Matusz’ place was a good one.

Just like the decision to send him down now is a good one.

Britton is only going to miss one or two starts at the major league level. His innings will be kept down, and the Orioles, and perhaps even Britton, will be glad that this happened come September when he is pitching with the O’s rather than being shut down.

If Zach Britton turns into a very good to elite pitcher, having him under control for an extra year will be extremely beneficial for the Orioles, especially if they are a good team at the time. Think about it, how nice would it be to have Adam Jones for three more years instead of two?

If Matt Wieters would have started 2009 on the Opening Day roster, he would only have three years under Orioles’ control after 2011 rather than the four that he has since he was kept down long enough to gain the extra year of service time. Knowing that, the fact that Gregg Zaun was starting for two months in 2009 doesn’t look so bad, does it? It is all about future over present. Short-term pain for long-term gain.

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