It’s a little more than halfway through the 2010 baseball season. The home run derby and All-Star game are now a distant memory. The Orioles are 29-59 thanks to a 4 game win streak in Texas last weekend. Gone are manager Dave Trembley andfirst baseman Garrett Atkins. Brian Roberts is still on the DL and there’s really no reason for him to come back in 2010, unless they want to see how much progress he has made come September 1 with the expanded rosters. Michael Gonzalez is still on the DL. Felix Pie and Koji Uehara have returned from early season DL trips, although Pie seems to have contracted Koji’s fragile hamstring disease.
Here is my Oriole report card:
Nick Markakis – A - steady at the plate, although power and RBI numbers aren’t quite as impressive. Should have been selected to AL All-Star squad over Wigginton.
Adam Jones – C+ – sometimes it appears he’s more interested in blowing bubbles instead of working to improve his game. He has come on in June but has to stay consistent to be taken seriously. Loves the low outside pitch, but can’t hit it. 10 walks and 76 strikeouts. Nuff said No Gold Glove this year.
Luke Scott – C- – shows flashes of greatness followed by flashbacks of Dave Kingman. Strikes out entirely too much.
Miguel Tejada – B – We knew he was going to make errors at 3rd and he’s not what he used to be at the plate. He should be July 31st trade bait. They haven’t won with or without him. Cut him loose for a prospect or 2.
Cesar Izturis – B+ – Was hitting around .240 last I looked. Not bad for that position on this team.
Julio Lugo – C+ – Started horribly at the plate but has gotten his average up in the .260 range with a few multi-hit games. If a team is looking for a veteran infielder for the stretch run, here he is.
Ty Wigginton – C – he started the season as the catalyst of the Orioles woeful offense but slumped miserably in June dropping his average 50 points. Didn’t deserve an All-Star berth. Playing every day probably hurt his numbers because he is a utility player, not an everyday player.
Matt Wieters – C - the so-called ‘Savior” of the franchise has been a huge disappointment at the plate, batting .245 with 6 HR and 29 RBI. He has been here for about 1 full season’s worth of games and hopefully will develop into the type player the Orioles think he can be.
Kevin Millwood – C- – OK so it’s not his fault the team can’t score runs when he’s pitching, but he’s given up a ton of early runs to put pressure on the offense to come back time after time. He started the season 0-8 with 6 no-decisions. He is now 2-8 with 8 ND in 18 starts, with a 5.77 ERA and averaging about 5 2/3 innings per start, hardly #1 numbers. Now he is on the DL with a phantom arm injury after his shortest outing of the year.
Jeremy Guthrie – C – He gets into early trouble like Millwood, then seems to settle down averaging about 2/3 of an inning per start more than Millwood. He is 3-10 but has the lowest ERA (4.77) of the pitchers who have started 8 or more games. He should be marketable if any team wants to bolster their staff for a playoff run.
Brian Matusz – C- – showed flashes of greatness early in the season but has 1 win in his last 15 starts. Looks like he knows what he’s doing out on the mound and hopefully will improve as the season progresses.
Brad Bergesen – C – has improved somewhat since his return from AAA but needs to regain his consistency so he can grow and improve.
Jake Arietta – B- – teams don’t have much book on him yet since he’s only started 7 games, but he has looked good in all but 2 of those games. Has a respectable 4.38 ERA and is the only starter with a winning record, but it’s imperative he cuts down on the walks.
Will Ohman and Jason Berken – A – these guys have been almost lights out when called upon. Berken has made the transition from starter to middle reliever to a stellar 1.95 ERa and winning 2 games in his 50 innings pitched. Ohman is a situational guy who was almost untouchable early in the season. He had a few hiccup performances but has gotten the job done when his number is called.
David Hernandez – C – his inconsistency got him yanked from the rotation after 8 starts but he has been involved in the 3rd most decisions (11) on the team and has benefited from some recent late comeback wins.
Rest of team combined – C- – the won/loss record spells it out. Most have been up and down from AAA. Matt Albers and Mark Hendrickson have been anointed the long relief guys and are doing their best. Chris Tillman was sent to AAA but has come back with a chip on his shoulder. He needs to get better to solidify his role as a starter. The rest of the bullpen is shaky. Simon is the closer but has been on the DL. He needs to be more consistent if he wants to remain in that job. Tatum will get a few more at-bats with Wieters recovering from an injury. Recently he’s played in 25% of the games. He’s adequate as a backup but if Wieters goes down for a longer period of time, at least they have Jake Fox who can catch in emergency situations. Speaking of Fox, McPhail rescued him from the A’s and he’s done a good job when inserted i the lineup. Scott Moore should have earned more playing time as he has done a decent job playing 2nd and 3rd base in a limited role.
Manager – Trembley D- lack of enthusiasm and wins got him fired. I didn’t agree with having him return for the 2010 season and thought it was a cheap move by McPhail to fire him 1/3 into the season. Granted Trembley’s managerial record was near the .400 mark and it wasn’t his fault he didn’t have the players he needed to succeed, but you do the best you can with what you have and try to show improvement year after year. Trembley got worse as the years passed.
Samuel – C+ He took over after 54 games and thanks to a 4 game win streak going into the break,being 14-20 looks a helluva lot better than 10-24. It looks like the team is playing with a little more attitude under him, but with the speculation surrounding Buck Showalter continues, it’s obvious his days as interim manager are coming to a close.
Team grade – D – they began with a devastating 2-16 record out of the gate and landed 3 players on the DL. They continued the slide by falling 21 games below .500 after May 31. In June they reached a low point of 33 games under .500. So far in July they have won 5 of 11 games as the offense has come alive with 3 late inning comeback wins. Fans are restless and are tired of the losing over the last 13 straight seasons. It’s not so much the losing, but not even being in contention is what really has the fans staying away from OPACY in droves. With 74 games remaining in the season, the Orioles have to win 35 games to equal last years woeful 64-98 mark. It’s not unattainable and would be a huge improvement from the first half of the season, but not good enough to have people talking about them as the Ravens pre-season games begin in a little less than 30 days.
Andy McPhail – D – this season was going to be all about wins and losses. Well so far there have been 30 more losses than wins, a manager relieved of his duties and a free agent 1st baseman released. He was going to buy the bats, but those bats turned out to be whiffle ball bats. Atkins was a bust, Millwood had underachieved, Tejada has been average, Mike Gonzalez was a bust, Koji turned out to be fragile and is the Japanese version of Mart Cordova and David Segui. It HAS to get better in 2011 or McPhail might find himself unemployed come October of 2011 if not sooner. I still don’t know how McPhail got this genius GM label. It’s been 19 years since ANY team he has been in charge of has won the World Series. (Twins in 1991) How is THAT measured as being a successful GM?
I am hoping the team announces Buck Showalter as new manager now. It’s doubtful they’d fire the existing coaches until after the season, unless Showalter has a coaching staff already assembled if and when he takes over. Let him come in and assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses while managing. There’s nowhere to go but up, right? Meanwhile the main focus of Baltimore sports fans has turned to the other team that plays in the Orioles’ Camden Yards neighborhood. They need to sign a power hitter and improve the depth on the bench for late inning PH roles. They have nothing on the bench which can strike fear into opposing relief pitchers. Pinch hit Tatum for Izturis or Lugo? Insane. They are low on options and need to improve of face the wrath of the fans. Adding more tee shirt and bobblehead giveaways might do the trick, as long as those players honored on the tee shirts and bobbleheads are still on the team. (see Nolan Reimold)
I’ll still watch them to see what unfolds and how the players perform over the final 74 games. All is not lost though, Baltimore, as training camp opens in about 2 weeks.