As July 31st approaches…..

July 25, 2010 | Keith Melchior

Six days a way from the MLB trading deadline and the Orioles are sitting firmly in last place in the AL East and easily have the worst record in baseball and could possibly have the worst record in Oriole history.  They are 31-67 with 64 games remaining in the season. They have to play .500 ball to avoid 100 losses. Based on their performance thus far this month (7-14) playing .500 baseball seems a bit of a reach and that 100 loss total will be accomplished.

The Orioles do have a few players who are having decent enough seasons to warrant possible trade bait to contenders. Teams are always looking for pitching going down the stretch, so Millwood and Guthrie could fetch some AAA or AA prospects.  Luke Scott seems to be on his semi-seasonal hot streak and is definitely movable. Ty Wigginton is another candidate for a team that is looking for a utility infielder. Miguel Tejada might get a solid AA player as well. Other than Jason Berken and Will Ohman, there is no one in the bullpen worth dealing.

You know the organization is going to most likely shut down Matusz, Bergesen, Arietta and Tillman when the September 1st roster expansion comes along. The organization will pat them on the back and say, “good job guys, go rest up and we’ll see you in February 2011”  WRONG!!!!  Pat them on the back and say good job?  Not a chance. They babied these guys for the better part of 2 seasons now. They might be happy with mediocrity. I’m not and 40,000 other Oriole fans who used to go see them play won’t be happy either. Matusz was the only one of the “young arms” who hasn’t spent time at  AAA this season. He is 3-11 with a 5.22 ERA in 110 IP. Based on the remaining schedule, he is projected to have about 10 to 12 more starts. He won’t even come close to pitching 200 innings and might not even reach 170 innings.

The “arms” who are supposed to lead this team into the future are a combined  10-26 in 266 IP with an ERA well over 5.70.  Being developed in the major leagues is not an easy thing to go through, but they have to learn how to be consistent enough to win at this level. Forget the pats on the back. These guys are averaging 5 1/3 innings per start and have walked 112 batters. To me that is not good enough. 2.5 wins per pitcher toward the end of July is also not acceptable. The attitude of the management is just to sweep it all under the rug and hope for the best next time out. That attitude has lasted 13 years now. Stop babying these guys and kick them in the ass and let them know if they don’t improve, they aren’t going to be here very long.

The process of hiring a new manager has seemed to stall as of late.  Speculation has Buck Showalter in the top spot. If that is true, what’s going on? Is there a standoff between Buck and management? Do they want him to keep the coaching staff in place and not bring in his own people? Is it all about money? Is the fact the team is 16-28 under Juan Samuel holding them back from making a move now?  Half of those 16 wins are a result of 2 4-game win streaks and winning 10 of 17 games in a 3 week stretch from June 24th until the All-Star break, but the team has not progressed that much under Samuel. They are hitting close to .200 with runners in scoring position, the starters have not gotten into the 6th inning on many occasions, the bullpen is tired and overworked as of late.

The Orioles have 29 home games remaining in the schedule, with all but 3 against teams over .500 and all but 6 in playoff contention. The Orioles are 18-33 at OPACY. Playing .500 baseball against contending teams seems like an impossible feat. Averaging 1 win in 3 games at home would leave them at 27-54 at home. The road schedule isn’t much easier although 12 of their remaining 34 games are against non-contenders. The Orioles have won 13 of 47 road games in 2010. If management chooses to shut down the 4 young starters, it adds to all the ingredients for a late season collapse and hopefully not a 4-32 finish like we saw a few seasons ago. That would surely cement the worst record in Oriole history.

Now that Ravens training camp is just about underway, the Orioles will once again fade away like they have for the last 12 years.  I wonder if MASN is going to do their dollar days promotion to try to get fannies in the seats down the stretch. No doubts that the warehouse brass is  looking forward to the 6 remaining games versus Boston and New York, especially since both are in contention. They are almost certain to average 4,000 Oriole fans and 35,000 visiting fans for those 6 games.