As of this writing, there are quite a few reasons the Orioles are 5 games under .500. Injuries are always at the forefront of teams that are struggling, but some really bad pitching, bad hitting, bad managing, and five 3+ game losing streaks are killing the 2011 Orioles.
The season is 1/3 completed after today’s game in Seattle. For some players, it’s time to put up or pack up. If these guys don’t get untracked, it might be time to say goodbye;
Jeremy Guthrie - His career record with Orioles is 40-55. As the veteran starter on this staff, he always seems to keep the team in the game, but he simply cannot win in Baltimore and it makes no sense to keep him around if there is a team out there willing to give up a minor league prospect or two for his services come July 31st. Maybe he’ll go become an ace with another team like Dennis Martinez and Curt Shilling did after the Orioles let them go. Martinez thrived with the Expos and Braves after mediocre seasons in Baltimore. Shilling wasn’t that good when he was an Oriole and didn’t really blossom into that dominant pitcher until almost 10 years into his career when he played for Philadelphia, Arizona, and finally Boston. It’s painful to see Guthrie continue to pitch his ass off with not many positive results. Do HIM a favor and send him packing. He deserves better fate and much more money than he’s getting here.
Michael Gonzalez - The team signed him as the closer before the 2010 season. He had a rough opening weekend then landed on the DL. As an Oriole, he is 1-4 in 48 games with a 5.57 ERA and the glaring number, ONE save. His contract with the Orioles is up after this season. He is not reliable, is wasting a roster spot and needs to be shipped out ASAP. They couldn’t even trade him for a bag of baseballs at this point, but will most likely keep him here until his contract expires if no one shows any interest in the washed up left handed reliever.
Luke Scott – He’s coming off an Oriole MVP year when he hit 27 HR and had 72 RBI. As an Oriole he’s averaging 25 HR, 55 BB, 100 K’s and 70 RBI. So far this season he’s sitting on 6HR and 19 RBI and is on pace for 18 HR, 57 BB, 114 K’s and 57 RBI. People are waiting for him to get hot for a week or so and carry the team on his back like he did last year. With a partial tear in the labrumon his right arm, that may not happen. After 2010 I said the Orioles should trade him while he has some value. Then, the Orioles signed Vladimir Guerrero to be the full time DH, which placed Scott in a platoon mode in left field with Felix Pie and recently Nolan Reimold. Scott has been lucky enough to find his way on the field at 1st base with Derreck Lee’s trip to the DL. I believe they have nothing to lose by trading Scott on July 31, especially if he doesn’t get into one of his “streaks.” He’s 33 years old and eligible for salary arbitration after this season and a free agent in 2013. They might lose a few HR’s andRBI but his potential is worth at least 2 mid-level players that might develop into something.
Brian Roberts – He has never played in the post-season and probably is the most beloved Oriole since Cal Ripken retired. You always see him in the community at churches, schools and hospitals. You always hear interviews with him on the radio. It is hard to believe he is 33 years old and he’s coming off an injury plagued 2010 that kept him out until August. Currently in his 17th day on the 7-day DL with concussion symptoms, he is not the lead off batter we’ve grown accustomed to for the last 10 years. Roberts is struggling at .221, 60 points below his career average. You hope he comes back and is able to provide that jump start the Orioles need so badly at the top of the lineup. Regardless of what many fans might think, if Roberts is able to play up to his standards, it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Orioles to explore possibilities of a trade before the deadline. The only thing that may hurt is his $10 million salary, but if he isn’t on the field and producing at the level the team needs, that $10 million is being wasted anyway.
Vladimir Guerrero – The Orioles ended up overpaying him to be the DH because no other teams appeared interested in the gimpy-kneed former outfielder. He still swings at bad pitches, but leads the team in hitting with a .289 average. The guys ahead of him in the batting order aren’t giving him a whole lot of chances as he only has 23 RBI. He is definitely on the trading block, which will land Luke Scott back into the DH role if he isn’t traded or on the DL come July 31. The Orioles might be able to get 2 decent AA players for him as long as his numbers don’t tail off.
The roller coaster ride will continue throughout the summer. The starters can’t get into the 7th inning, the big bats brought in during the off season have some major holes in them, the bullpen is shaky from middle relief to closer. The only one really doing the job is Koji with a 2.78 ERA and 0.882 WHIP. He’s actually thrown 22 2/3 innings in 21 games but rarely sees action on consecutive days. Since Koji was only signed to a one year deal, the Orioles should consider unloading him to a team looking for bullpen help in the late innings. Although fragile, Koji is quite capable.
There is not much talent in the AA or AAA levels to push anyone out of his spot. Brandon Snyder and Ryan Adams have reached the majors but weren’t doing enough in their at-bats to warrant them receiving more playing time. They’ve combined for 24 plate appearances, 4 hits, 3 BB, 5 K’s, 1 Run scored and no HR’sor RBI. Thus the position shuffling I wrote about earlier in the week. Sooner or later the Orioles have to bite the bullet and let these guys see some increased playing time. You can’t keep sticking with older players who are not producing to the level you expect.
I will probably catch some heat for suggesting these trades, but when you consider the ages of the players involved, it almost makes sense. A few years ago, the Orioles’ promotion was “Come see the kids play” That was a time when, age-wise, they had one of the youngest teams in the majors. With the exception of Brian Roberts, most, if not all, of those guys are long gone and the 2011 Oriole 40 man roster averages close to 29 years of age.
As the season approaches the halfway point, it’ll be interesting to see whether this team unfolds or folds up.