The Orioles may want to take a day trip to Malibu and ask Brady Anderson for a dose of his vitamins while they’re out on the West Coast. The O’s will play seven games out West in Oakland and Seattle, and things couldn’t be worse.
If I told you before the season that the Orioles would really miss Aubrey Huff’s speed, how would you react?
Yet, that’s the type of season The Birds have had thus far. On the day that Huff hit an inside-the-park home run for San Francisco, the O’s fell to 1-8. And this hasn’t been just any 1-8. This is a 1-8 start that includes an 0-6 opening homestand and a pile of heartbreaking late inning meltdowns.
It’s mid-April, and already the club has found a half dozen ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
That’s why Andy MacPhail, on the record for saying the O’s should be judged by wins and losses this year, should have fired Dave Trembley yesterday. Yet, while fans turn out by the dozen, MacPhail went on record to say that he would not scapegoat, indicating that Trembley’s job is safe for now.
In other words, he’s not about to fire the captain of the ship while it’s going down.
Dave Trembley is not to blame for Brian Roberts injury or
the Mike Gonzalez signing. He’s not the one in the field, on the mound, or at the plate. But he does have some accountability here.
Firing Trembley would be, in part, an effort to change clubhouse morale. This is the guy who said the following while the team was showering up after an 0-6 homestand:
“It’s not the end of the world.”
“We expect that we’ll play better.”
Sure, what is he supposed to say? Trembley’s comments weren’t delivered casually, but they sound like the words of a man who has grown accustomed to losing. Do you think Lou Pinella would say that if the Cubs went 0-6 at Wrigley?
That’s a rhetorical question.
To be sure, a Dave Trembley firing would not be merely symbolic. He is the guy making the lineup and the pitching changes. He’s the guy who has kept Nick Markakis in the three spot despite the fact that he is hitting .207 with a .410 on base percentage so far this season. Kakes has 10 walks to only 6 hits and 0 home runs. In other words, as most people have known for the last two years, Nick Markakis is a number two, not a number three hitter. And if you don’t think that makes a difference, tell me what you think the next time he comes up with two outs and a runner on second and stares at strike three while hoping to take a walk. And shouldn’t Adam Jones have a more clearly defined role in this, his third season with the O’s?
And then there is the pitching. At least three losses, both of Millwood’s and Matusz’s, can be attributed to Trembley leaving his SP out there one inning too long. In this way, the thing that the team has been lacking for nearly all of the last decade, quality starts, have been ruined by poor pitching management.
Of course, there are also bullpen management and base-running debacles to review. How many times does a reliever have to give up a rocketship or a hitter stretch a single into a long out before management takes responsibility? It’s not like the base-running issues are new. Do you mean to tell me there is no way to make professional baseball players stop running the bases like they’re playing in a Patterson Park rec league?
Trembley apologists say that a baseball manager’s job is in many ways symbolic. Unlike in football, for which the coach typically draws up each play, in baseball, the manager has only so much control over his squad. But if managing is largely symbolic, then it is time for a symbolic gesture. The Orioles are in dire need of a fresh start and the fans are more restless than ever. MacPhail should have let Trembley go yesterday and hoped the club could scratch out a few wins out West. They are in desperate need of a clean start before we’re 75 games into the season and the season is out of hand.
MacPhail already missed his first major opportunity. Let’s hope that if this downward spiral continues, the esoteric GM shows that he really does care about wins and losses, by firing the manager who has overseen the club’s worse start since 1988 and who says things like “it’s not the end of the world.”
Firings, like beheadings, should be swift and severe.