What Happened??

July 13, 2011 | John West

Well, the Orioles are at the All-Star break and things have spiraled out of control. They have gone from average with some real positives, to horrific and lots of structural negatives that cloud the entire Oriole picture. Overall, this is real bad.
Let’s start with the quick positives. On June 16, the Orioles were 30-31, one game behind the watershed mark of playing .500 baseball. Our bullpen trio of Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg were proving to be one of the best finishing bullpens in all of baseball. We had a young starter in Jake Arrieta who was one game off the American League lead in wins. (He finished the first half with 9 wins) Adam Jones was playing close to an All-Star and JJ Hardy had come back from an early season injury and was beginning to play great baseball again. Young rookie Zack Britton looked as good as had been advertised.
Since then, the Orioles have gone 6-21 and are currently losers of 7 straight games. This brings their record to 36-52. Only the Houston Astros have fewer loses than the Orioles. As they said in the classic American Comedy A Might Wind, “What happened?”
The truth is the Orioles are who we thought they were.
The list of flaws with this team, and its roughly $87 million dollar payroll, is long. We have 3 field players that are very good. They are Matt Weiters, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. I really want to put Brian Roberts on this list, but 2 straight years of very long trips to the DL has raised concerns, career threatening concerns. Who knows if he can every come back? I do know I have stopped believing what I am being told about his injuries.
Mark Reynolds has great power. His All-Star break line looks like this, .227 average, 20 HR’s and 49 RBI’s. All of this is very good out of the 6th or 7th spot in any lineup. Where his HUGE problem comes is his defense. He has 20 errors. He would lead the league with errors at 3rd base if he only had HALF as many errors as he has. Ultimately, I think he is better defensively than this and should be a nice contributing factor for this team for at least 2 more years.
Our starting pitching has fallen off the map. We are looking for scrap heap pitchers to make some starts the rest of this year.
Chris Tillman has been demoted and throws too many pitchers to ever be a starter.
Brian Matusz was hurt and has come back with very little velocity and rumor has it a serious ego problem.
Zack Britton has flat out lost it and has been demoted to AA.
Brad Bergeson was demoted than sent to the bullpen. He doesn’t have major league stuff.
Jake Arrieta walks too many people. He has the best stuff, but has not fine tuned the art of pitching. I am hopeful that it will come, but it hasn’t and is painful to watch.
Jeremy Guthrie is pitching OK. He looks like an abused man with the lack of run support and is rumored to be on the trading block.
Moving to the big bats we bought, Vlad and Derrek have been awful. I don’t care how good a guy Derrek Lee is. With $17 million dollars invested in these 2 players, we should be getting more. As it stands now, it doesn’t look like either one of these are even trade-able. That means nobody else wants them. I hope Vlad is cut very soon and I don’t care about Derrek.
Left Field has had 3 years of Luke and Felix and Nolan and we have had 3 years of failure. Worse is it looks like we are headed to a 4th year of this. This is very bad.
Our minor league prospects have all been promoted to the major league. We have 1 potential superstar graded prospect in SS Manny Machado. We have 1 really good relief pitcher prospect in Daniel Klein. We just drafted a HS kid, Danny Bundy, but we need to sign him. All major scouting services grade our minor leagues as below average.
I think the bottom line is this, and this is coming from a life-long Oriole fan. I can’t wait for this NFL Lockout to END.