It’s easy to blame the players themselves for the embarrassing defense the Orioles display nearly game in and game out.
And I’m not here to defend Mark Reynolds or Wilson Betemit or Ryan Flaherty — or anyone else on the club who looks overwhelmed when a grounder comes bounding in their direction.
After all, they didn’t sign themselves.
But enough is enough with this Charlie Brown defense the club is putting up.
It’s costing them valuable wins or, at the very least, it’s putting them behind the eight-ball so often that they’re bound to lose more than they win when the errors start piling up.
So who gets the blame?
Well…who signed them? Who put them in those positions? Who continues to put their name on the lineup card?
Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, that’s who.
As a matter of fairness, it’s worth nothing Duquette has made some good moves in his first year as the top dog of the front office. But those moves don’t mean a hill of beans when a grounder goes between the legs of Betemit or Reynolds fails to come up with a routine grounder at first that opens the floodgates for a 7-run first inning — like what happened on Monday night in Minnesota.
Duquette was so worried about his team’s defense earlier this month that he went out and picked up Jim Thome. The only problem? Thome doesn’t actually play any defense. He’s a left-handed version of Mark Reynolds, except Thome figured out a few years ago that he’s better off leaving his glove in the trunk of his car.
It’s easy to be over-enthused with the Orioles first half, given their 45-40 record and legitimate hopes for a September game that matters for the first time since 1997. Some of the players Duquette and Buck brought in helped the club play 5-games over .500 heading into the All-Star break. Unfortunately, some of the players they brought in stink in the field. And it’s costing the team games.
This, of course, is no secret. I’m a dummy from Glen Burnie and I said in the winter that not improving the team’s defense was going to be a problem come spring and summer. Turns out, shock of all shocks, I was spot on. The Orioles defense isn’t “sub-standard”, “hit or miss” or even “OK”. It’s not even close to any of those. The Orioles defense is horrible. Strong? Yeah, probably, since you never expect a team of major league players to ever do anything, collectively, “horribly”. But the truth is this: the Orioles are a horrible defensive team. There are four players on the team that will catch the ball nearly every time it comes their way. That’s it…four. Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy…there they are. Everyone else? It’s a bad movie.
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