The Orioles made the first move in what looks to be a very close race in the AL East, proving they are buyers at the trade deadline for the first time since the Clinton administration. Though it does not look like a major move, it is significant to a young team making a playoff push for the first time. The O’s are not just adding a bat, they are making a change in the culture.
Thome’s addition will add left handed power to the middle of order, which is struggling to get in a rhythm as of late. His presence as a DH will set the lineup, moving everyone else in to their proper role. Adam Jones has been forced to bat clean up lately because of the lack of power on the everyday roster but with Thome in Baltimore, Jones can move to three hole, where his plate discipline and speed on the base path will have a larger impact. In turn, Nick Markakis moves up to the two hole (when he returns to the lineup), where his ability to hit spray doubles all over the field belongs. Finally, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis now move down in the lineup, alleviating some of the pressure they have to perform.
This move also allows the Orioles to make the move everyone has been clamoring for in Baltimore; keep Mark Reynolds out of the lineup. He has really frustrated the fan base with his inability to produce in the field and his inconsistency at the plate. If they could trade Reynolds away before the deadline, he will not bring back a major haul, but should be enough to replace what they sent to Philly.
The lineup with Thome in place and everyone back to full health looks as the following:
But this move is not just about the lineup, as Thome may have a larger impact in the locker room. This guy has been repeatedly touted as one of the nicest guys in the league, proving he will be helpful hand in the development of the Baby Birds. He is a winner and veteran presence this lineup sorely needs to weather the rigors of a 162 game season.
In this current starting lineup, only Hardy and Betemit have even taken an at bat in the playoffs with 43 combined; Thome has 217 postseason at bats by himself. His value is beyond his batting average and home run total; his experience adds much needed poise to the roster. But it also means Dan Duquette is prepared to make the necessary moves to keep the Orioles in the race through September.