Yesterday during my 15 minute radio segment, I had a caller who felt the the number one thing the Orioles needed to do was call up Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold (especially Reimold) NOW. I do not disagree with him that Reimold and Wieters are very good players that need to see time in an Orioles uniform this season. What I will disagree with is that they are a major priority right now. It is only May 7th in a season that we will not compete for the playoffs with or without them.
The Orioles number one problem is withtheir pitching staff. We are in the upper half of the AL in both batting average and runs scored, with only the Blue Jays having a significant edge in runs per game. On the other hand our pitching staff is 12th in the league in runs allowed. Our pitching problems run deeper than just the ERA numbers. Only Koji Uehara is averaging at least six innings per start. This exacerbates the problems are bullpen has, which are many. We are unable to trust our middle relief. Ray and Bass have been spotty at best; and even though Walker’s ERA is under 2, I feel like he has given up most of his inherited runners. Then at the back end Sherrill hasn’t done his job. Danys Baez is probably the pitching MVP so far, that says it all.
We are not going to fix this pitching problem this season. Later in the year we will probably call up a few of our pitching prospects, but most agree we don’t want to rush them. Rushing the hitting prospects though is another story. My caller was very adamant that Reimold needed to come up now, with no consideration that he might not be successful. Reimold is tearing the cover off the ball in Triple A. He is hitting .391 with 8 HR’s. He had a great year last year as well, but his first two minor league season weren’t particularly impressive. There is no guarantee that his success in the majors will be immediate. In a year where we are not going to compete I don’t mind trying many different things. I think that is what the Oriole management is doing. Reimold will get his shot, but Pie and Montanez are getting tested out first. Since both are batting under .200, if they don’t pick it up Reimold will come sooner rather than later. For those that just assume Reimold will continue to mash the ball once he is called up, Pie and Montanez provide a cautionary tale. Don’t forget that Montanez batted .335 and won the Eastern League triple crown. For those that say what about triple A, Montanez was batting .429 in his 42 at-bats before being called up this year. Pie the object of most people’s scorn obviously has never had Reimold’s power, but in his last full year at Triple A Iowa he batted .362. So what happens if Reimold struggles, who’s the next savior.
All I am saying is that for all Reimold’s success at Norfolk, history has proven that Triple A success does not a major leaguer make. Heck, Wieters isn’t even having that great of a start down there. I feel both will eventually be up here, but what’s the rush. In a year like this lets experiment. Montanez might turn out to have a great year, Pie could turn things around. We aren’t going to win this year, so at the trade deadline we will be sellers not buyers. Lets assume that Orioles brass has decided that Reimold is the future and is definitely opening day 2010 left fielder. What do we do with Pie, Montanez, Wigginton. My caller suggested just cut them. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to let them try to come out of their slumps and then maybe ,just maybe they have some value to a contender in July. At least then we could wrangle a Double A pitcher out of it.
I hope that Reimold and Wieters are important members of the Orioles for years to come. I wouldn’t be upset if they did get called up soon, I just don’t think the Orioles number one concern right now is if Nolan Reimold is on the major league roster on May 8th. That’s all.