I am not going to sit here and proclaim I have all of the answers to fix a team that is playing .300 baseball and looks as bad as their record would indicate. The rebuilding process is going to be a long and arduous process that is going to continue to frustrate and anger even the most die hard fan. Young players that were expected to take a step forward have taken a major leap backwards and have regressed to alarming levels while major league veterans make “Little League” mistakes that have killed a team that has almost no margin for error.
As I have stated before I do see some light at the end of the tunnel; I believe that Matt Wieters is going to become a very special player and a major contributor in the batters box and behind the plate. I also believe that Brian Matusz and Jake Arreita are going to prove themselves as top of the rotation arms in the not too distant future. As for the more veteran players Nick Markakis is a tremendous all around player that will show his true worth when he is hitting nightly in the two spot in a quality lineup. Finally I think Adam Jones is going to have a rollercoaster of a career that is going to contain breathtaking highs and mind boggling low; but I believe he will even out somewhat and be a solid #5 hitter that has 30 home run potential at the plate and Gold Glove ability in center.
With that said there is a lot of junk being tossed out on the field in an Orioles uniform this season that has turned off even more fans than Andy MacPhail and company could have expected. I really do see a couple of potential moves and bright spots that could help push this rebuilding process into gear.
The Orioles need to go out during the All Star Break and get First Baseman Chris Davis from the Rangers.
Chris Davis is an elite power prospect that is being blocked by super prospect Justin Smoak in Texas. Right now Davis is in Triple-A and he is clearly being dangled as a bargaining chip for the Rangers to improve a team that is prepared to make a run this season. The Davis situation has been drawing comparisons to a few years ago when the Rangers traded Adrian Gonzalez to San Diego because he was being blocked at First Base by Mark Teixeira.
Davis has true “light tower power” and is as intriguing a power prospect as there is in baseball. The issue is that Davis isn’t going to be a great On-Base guy and strikes out quite a bit. But for an Orioles team that has a ton of guys that project as #2 or #5 hitters in a major league lineup why not take a chance on a 24 year old monster with 40 home run potential?
The Orioles could probably get Davis right now for Jeremy Guthrie and a Julio Lugo/Koji Uehara. They need to make a run at Davis as soon as possible while Guthrie is healthy and pitching reasonably well and Davis’ stock is at an all time low. Unfortunately this isn’t the kind of move the Orioles tend make as they would rather give up nothing and acquire free agent “place holders” such as Garrett Atkins or Kevin Millar.
The bullpen has a lot of upside going into 2011
Yeah this is a statement that is harder to swallow after last nights debacle in Detroit but the bullpen really does have a lot of options going forward.
David Hernandez looks like he could be a very good closer; I believe he has the mentality and stuff to dominate in the ninth inning and solidify the backend of a bullpen.
In the setup role Jim Johnson will hopefully come back healthy and could be combined with Alfredo Simon to lock down the final two innings of a ball game(hopefully there will be more opportunities for these guys going forward).
In the middle the Orioles have Jason Berken who has been an absolute revelation since moving from starter to the bullpen.
The Orioles will have the ability to fill out their bullpen with Will Ohman as a left handed specialist, Troy Patton as a left handed long reliever, and Mike Gonzalez as a $6 million dollar middle reliever.
After that the team can mix and match with any combination of Kam Mickilio, Cla Meredith, Ross Wolf, and/or Armando Gambino.
On top of that it would probably be prudent to put Brandon Erbe into Norfolk’s bullpen for the remainder of this season and make the obvious decision.
The Orioles need to trade away any veterans they can and play out the remainder of the season with as many prospects as possible.
I would love seeing Guthrie and Lugo go to Texas for Chris Davis. After that move I would deal Ty Wigginton, Kevin Millwood, Miguel Tejada, Koji Uehara, Mark Hendrickson, and Cesar Izturis for some prospects in any combination teams would want. After the dust has settled this is the roster I would throw on the field every night.
LF/DH Corey Patterson
RF Nick Markakis
SS Miguel Tejada (if he isn’t dealt)
1B Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
CA Matt Wieters
LF/DH Felix Pie
3B Josh Bell
2B Scott Moore
Julio Lugo or Cesar Izturis
In the end I understand that the Orioles are an organization in disarray but rather than just pile on top of a bad team I like to try and give a little bit of hope. I know that everyone, including me, is looking for the big money superstars to come to Baltimore but honestly that isn’t going to happen until this team shows it is beginning to turn the corner. To do that we are going to have to make smart moves and hope that our young players develop into the quality players we have been told they will be.