As July 31st looms……

July 29, 2009 | Keith Melchior

Here we are suffering through another Orioles last place run as the official non-waiver trade deadline is about 48 hours away. Some 2 weeks ago, there were trade rumors swirling around Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott and George Sherrill. Since then, Huff and Scott have suffered through a hellacious slump and their trade value has dipped a bit. Sherrill is still valued as a good set-up guy or emergency closer should a contender need depth at that position. The Angels and Dodgers are rumored to bid for Sherrill, but as for Scott and Huff, the phones aren’t ringing off the hook.  Felix Pie has made the most of his spotty opportunities as of late and is hitting a respectful .300 since mid to late June, so it’s doubtful he’ll be going anywhere.

It’s been almost a month since the greatest comeback in Oriole history. Do you remember what the apologists were claiming the day after? That wild 11-10 win against the Red Sox on June 30th was a major stepping stone to prove the Orioles won’t quit and it could spark the team into a nice run toward the .500 mark and into the All-Star break. Since that game, the Orioles have gone 7-15. That stepping stone was rather slippery. Now 15 games under.500 the Orioles go into their final 63 games with lots of question marks.

Tonight will probably be one of the final chances for the Orioles to show what the immediate future holds as pitcher Chris Tillman makes his major league debut. Tillman has been nothing less than dominant in the minors. We recently heard that about a rookie catcher named Wieters. While Wieters is learning and progressing nicely albeit slowly, one can only hope Tillman’s minor league success doesn’t turn into a major league disaster, ala Jason Berken, but despite his 1-8 record, Berken has proven himself to be a decent starter. He is taking his lumps and still going out there every 5th day and giving 100% while training on the job. I look for him to turn it around as long as the rest of the team doesn’t quit on him. 

According to the Orioles website, the 2 game Sunday win streak will be on the line as Rich Hill will start on Sunday against the Red Sox. Alas, I just got a text message from WNST that Rich Hill was placed on the 15 day DL to make room on the roster for Tillman. I guess the DL is better than being shipped out altogether. The Orioles don’t have a day off until Thursday August 13th. My guess is that Jason Berken will now pitch Sunday and  Tillman will probably go Monday in Detroit. There was talk of Trembleytoying witha 6 man rotation during August and September when the rosters expand to 40. Do these guys really need 5 days off between starts when they only pitch 5 or 6 innings per start to begin with?

As far as Trembley is concerned, I think he knows his days are numbered. As a major league manager, I give him a grade of “D”. I’ve been on the dump Dave bandwagon since Matt Wieters was called up 39 games ago. He talked the talk when he was hired as the full time manager, but he has continually shown he cannot manage or motivate the talent given to him. And the Orioles DO have quite a few talented players on their roster.  Roberts, Jones, Markakis, Huff, Scott, Mora, Reimold, Wieters. Come on, that’s 7 of the starting 9 that could be starting on ANY other team. Guthrie and Bergesen could be # 3 & 4 starters as well. Bass, Albers, Johnson and Sherrillare viable relievers that aren’t going to continually throw gas on the fire when they go out there. That’s 13 players of the 25 man roster. You HAVE to be able to win with this type of talent. Trembley cannot right the ship no matter what moves he makes, so it’s time to start looking for a manager who knows how to handle the pitchers without babying them and also show the team he means business if any of them start lagging or show a total disinterest in what they are supposed to be doing.  After that blazing 6-2 start, the team has gone 36-55 and has called up 7 or 8 rookies during the season. They weren’t supposed to win this season anyway. That is a rather poor excuse to keep Trembley around should they choose to .

On the post game show last night, Oriole #1 apologist Ton Davis said the Orioles have been competitive and are 21-25 in games decided by 2 runs or less. Being competitive doesn’t always add up to being a good team and winning games. The Washington Generals are always competitive against the Harlem Globetrotters, but they never win. There are no moral victories in sports. Being just good enough to lose is still a loss in the standings.

That miracle comeback win means absolutely nothing 29 days later. I hope Tillman is the real deal.