What is REALLY wrong with the Orioles.

May 24, 2010 | Keith Melchior

Watching the game last Monday against Kansas City was pretty brutal. Seeing the stadium more than 3/4 empty is getting to be a rather common thing when you turn on the TV. Stumbling, fumbling and not getting a key hit really have hurt the Orioles this season. Brad Bergesen deserved better last week, although he gave up 10 hits and 3 earned runs. He balked in the 2nd Royal run and both teams seemed to be hurt by the wet conditions.

The Orioles are now 14-31 and have the worst record in baseball. They along with Houston are the only 2 teams that are double digits out of first place. Houston is 10.5 games out. The Orioles are 18 games out of first in the AL East and were the first team to lose 30 games. A few small win streaks helped stop the bleeding, but is this team ever going to turn the corner and progress as everyone has hoped? I sincerely hope so but I surely doubt it.

Why?

The Baltimore Orioles may have lots of youthful talent and some decent pitching in Brian Matusz, Jeremy Guthrie, and Brad Bergesen. They are playing without their leader, Brian Roberts, and their closer, Michael Gonzalez, and top hitter early on, Felix Pie,  also ended up on the DL.  Their #1 starter, Kevin Millwood, is winless. Their #5 starter, Brad Bergesen,  has 3 wins. Brian Matusz has impressed, although he got shelled against the Rangers, David Hernandez hasn’t  looked good beyond the 3rd inning in most of his starts.  Will Ohman, 0.00 ERA, and Jason Berken, 1.52 ERA, have done outstanding  jobs coming out of the bullpen. The team  leader in HR’s is utility player Ty Wigginton and who knows where this team would be without him right now. The 1st baseman they signed to provide power is powerless and has yet to hit a HR in an Oriole uniform. Their fill-in closer, Jim Johnson was inconsistent and was sent to the DL. They are on pace to lose 100 games or more if they continue the path they are on.

I STILL can’t believe how many Oriole fans give Andy McPhail a pass. After all, this is the team HE assembled. This is his 3rd full season as Orioles VP of baseball operations/GM.  The apologists will all say it’s not his fault Roberts, Pie and Gonzalez got hurt and it’s not his fault Millwood has yet to win a game and Atkins has yet to hit a HR. It’s not his fault the team has failed miserably producing runs with runners in scoring position. Besides, the claim is that McPhail assembles winning organizations.  Last I looked, only the Minnesota Twins won the World Series (twice) while McPhail was at the helm from 1985 to 1994. During that period they only made the playoffs twice and finished 2nd twice. The other 6 seasons, they finished well below .500.  Not exactly what you’d classify as a dynasty. The Cubs had some success but are still the lovable losers of the major leagues.  They have the most dedicated fans in the league and still come to the ballpark even though the Cubs haven’t  won a World Series in 102 years. They have been to the playoffs 6 times since the Orioles won the World Series in 1983. The Orioles have been to the playoffs twice since then. McPhail’s Cubs never made the playoffs, unless you want to say the 2003 team was technically one he put together.

Ummm, sorry apologists, but this is HIS plan in motion. It IS his fault. HE chose to bring Dave Trembley back as manager. Dave Trembley might be a really beloved and dedicated organizational man, but like another beloved and dedicated baseball man, Cal Ripken Sr, he is not a good manager. McPhail signed Millwood, Gonzalez, Atkins, Lugo, Tatum, Tejada, Ohman, and Uehara. He has engineered movement of players back and forth to the minors. Lou Montanez, Rhyne Hughes, Nolan Reimold, Corey Patterson, Brad Bergesen, Alfredo Simon, and Alberto Castillo have all spent time in the minors. They signed Miguel Tejada, a shortstop for most if not all of his career, to play 3rd base. They experimented with Reimold at 1st base in Norfolk last weekend and had the Oriole version of Dave Kingman, Luke Scott, playing first base against the Nationals this past weekend. They inserted former starter Alfredo Simon as a closer when the Jim Johnson plan went out the window with every blown save. Desperation moves. What do they have to lose, anyway?  Why not try things that are out of the realm of the master plan?

Now Simon is injured and day to day. There is yet another DL trip for the extremely fragile Koji Uehara.  Johnson is already on the DL so he won’t  get a third chance. to close  I think it’s time for Ohman to be the closer instead of the late inning situational lefty. There’s nothing to lose by making the move. Ohman looks like he has the closer mentality. He seems to be the only one in the bullpen with passion for the game.

As we move closer to July and the ever popular trading deadline, I tend to wonder what moves, if any, the Orioles will make to try to improve themselves or rather, their farm system.  Will they move Tejada, Millwood, Atkins, Wigginton, Scott, Guthrie or another player that may have some value to a playoff contender?

Taking everything into consideration, the one thing I really think the Orioles are lacking in 2010?

CHEMISTRY……… Period…full stop..

They have the primary parts in place to win. They have all-star caliber players at quite a few positions. They are weak at short, first and left field. They can’t get timely hits with runners on base. The  ”March of the Wooden Soldiers” theme should play every time Dave Trembley pops out of the dugout to yank a pitcher in his nonsensical matchup situations.

Andy McPhail said numerous times the team will continue to grow the arms in the farm systems and buy the bats they need to contend. The bats he bought for this season aren’t faring too well. Tejada is hitting .265 with 4  HR and  20 RBI, but Garrett Atkins has been a huge disappointment, batting a paltry 219 with no HR and only 6 RBI.

This team is not together on the same page and it begins at the top with manager Dave Trembley. The lineup has been changed so much there is no continuity. Adam Jones hits 2nd then leadoff then drops to 7th (and that was NOT an inside the park HR yesterday, it was a 4 base error) After every mounting loss the same old comments are made. “We have to put this one behind us and move forward, we can’t let the game get away from us, we’ll regroup and come out tomorrow ready to play” Blah blah blah…. McPhail has already given Trembley a vote of confidence until probably the end of the season. If Trembley doesn’t finish out the season, then McPhail is to fault for re-signing him to begin with. No way will McPhail admit he was wrong.

So, for the thirteenth year in a row the Orioles will finish below .500 and be far out of the playoffs. This will be the 28th season since 1979 without playoff baseball in Baltimore (1983, 1996, 1997)  That’s TWENTY EIGHT seasons folks.  No wonder the fans are finding other things to occupy their time from April to September.

Thank you, Art Modell, for bringing Baltimore the Ravens

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