MacPhail: “Offense underperforming”

May 05, 2010 | Drew Forrester

At least we know Andy MacPhail’s been watching the games.

Too bad we can’t get him to talk about them more often.  In Baltimore, anyway.  Andy always seems to have time for the New York media, but today at least, he took time to deal with the great unwashed in Charm City and prattled on about how players need to start performing up to expectations or changes might have to be made.

Gee, at 7-21, you think changes would help?


Maybe not, frankly.

The BIGGEST problem with the Orioles — in MY opinion — as they are currently constructed is the absence of Brian Roberts.  His injury has set the team’s offense back in a big way.  I’m not saying the club would be 14-14 with him.  But I can say without hesitation they’d be better than 7-21.

MacPhail’s threatening stance isn’t likely to cause many ripples in the Orioles clubhouse, because most of the players are smart enough to know there’s really no one down on the farm who could come in and do any better.

Corey Patterson’s a guy with major league experience who’s hanging out at Norfolk.  Is he the answer?  Not at all.  If he still had something under the hood, he wouldn’t be in the Orioles minor league system, right?  Right.

Josh Bell?  Time to bring him up?  Nope.

Brandon Snyder?  No.

That’s the issue facing the battlin’ Birds.  There’s no one worth a hoot in Norfolk or Bowie who could come up and give this team what it needs.

Let’s also look at this issue for a second.  The O’s just left New York with their tail between their legs after the Bronx Bombers beat ’em three straight games.  That’s six meetings total this year – and five Orioles losses to the Yanks.  A lot of teams would go 1-5 vs. New York over a 6-game stretch if the pitching match-ups were favorable for the defending champs.  So while 7-21 doesn’t look very good, keep in mind it’s like the men against the boys when the O’s play the Yankees.  But it’s NOT like that every night, because the O’s don’t play the Yankees every night.

Still, though, for Baltimore to be competitive, they have to play better than they have, in virtually every facet.  The starting pitching has been acceptable, but it hasn’t been great.  The team’s defense has been unreliable.  There’s zero team speed and parades are organized downtown when Trembley calls for a steal in a crucial situation.  Other than Ty Wigginton (and this says A LOT), no one on the team is trustworthy at the plate when runners are on base or a big hit needs to be produced.  And the bullpen, while MUCH improved over the last 10 games, was going to get the leading role in The Towering Inferno II after a horrific first three weeks.  I’m not piling on here, but facts are facts.  For the Orioles to win, A LOT of things have to go right for them with the lineup they’re currently using.  For the Orioles to lose, it only takes a small blunder to open the flood gates.

Andy can put the offense “on notice” all he wants, but he should have seen this coming in the off-season.  When the team needed a clean-up hitter last winter, they wound up not really acquiring one.  Tejada has been better than expected 28 games in, particularly on defense, but the losing will eventually wear him down again, as it did the first time around in Baltimore when he basically packed it in.  Even with Tejada The Return, a Matt Holliday, Jason Bay or Adam LaRoche signing (maybe even – GASP! – two of them) would have given the club much more offensive security in the event that someone like Roberts got hurt and missed extensive time.  LaRoche, of course, was eschewed for Garrett Atkins.  That’s worked out well. And Holliday and Bay were both available — expensive, but available — but not attractive enough for MacPhail to consider either of them over the exciting, productive trifecta of Reimold-Pie-Scott.

This dilemma facing MacPhail is as predictable as the sun setting in the West.

You get what you pay for.

You want a great steak, you go to a steak restaurant and pay $45 for the filet.  If you just want a piece of meat, pay $18 for it at a chain restaurant and enjoy the gristle…it’s complimentary.

You can have a terrific bottle of wine for $25 or you can get one for $8 and it comes with a free headache.  Your choice.

I do feel badly for MacPhail because the team he put together that he was willing to sign off on hasn’t been able to compete for 28 games.

That doesn’t mean I agree with the team he put together.  I didn’t agree with it, in fact.

But to defend him for a moment, the personnel on the field for a large percentage of the 28 games isn’t the group he wanted to see out there on a nightly basis.  Yes, he brought a lot of these guys to Baltimore.  But in a perfect world – or MacPhail’s world, I suppose – Garrett Atkins would be earning his keep in Baltimore and Rhyne Hughes would be listening to his iPod on a bus heading from Norfolk to Asheville.

And thank God for Ty Wigginton and all, but his overall performance at 2nd base, even with the bulging offensive numbers, can’t be more impactful than a healthy Brian Roberts would be to the Orioles lineup.

So for that, I give MacPhail a “that’s a shame” half-a-pass.

But while Andy’s busy putting people on notice, he must certainly understand the watchful eye of the fans is being cast on him at this point.  After all, he hired – or, kept on board, if you will – Dave Trembley last October.  He signed Mike Gonzalez.  He picked Garrett Atkins over Adam LaRoche.  He put his phone on silent when the agent for Holliday and Bay called during the winter.

You get what you pay for.

Just ask the Yankees.