Inside Look: Orioles
You’ve watched one Orioles game but that doesn’t make you an expert, does it? So we’ve called on an Oriole expert and fellow SweetSpot Blogger Dave McNeill of Weaver’s Tantrum.
The Orioles are in a state of flux, having recently fired their manager and on the lookout for a new skipper. As such we spent some time on that subject before moving on to the players.
My questions are in bold, Dave’s answers are in the blue boxes.
Dave, thanks for sharing your insight with us.
Thanks for having me on your blog. On behalf of Oriole fans, I’d like to welcome you to Baltimore. We assume you are much more sophisticated and polite than the fans of that other New York team.
There’s another team in NY? Anyway, let’s get started …
1. The Orioles are having a rough start. Was it expected by you that they’d be this bad? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
NOBODY expected the Orioles to be THIS bad. 17-43? Yuck. For context, the O’s are only one game ahead of the ’62 Mets, who were 16-44 at this point in their historic season. Baltimore has two fundamental problems. First they have had bad luck with injuries, losing leadoff man Brian Roberts and their three top relief pitchers pretty much as soon as the season had started. Roberts is still taking painkilling injections for his back problem and could be gone for the year. Second, the Orioles’ vaunted crop of young players has failed to develop as hoped. Nolan Reimold, Brad Bergesen, and Chris Tillman have all been demoted to AAA at various times. Reimold is still there. Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, and even super-prospect Matt Wieters have been up and down. Nick Markakis has lost his power.
Eventually the injuries will heal and some of the young guys will develop into good major leaguers, so there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel. We just won’t get there in 2010.
2. Did Dave Trembley deserve the ax?
“Deserve” doesn’t have a lot to do with it. Trembles didn’t ask for this awful team and he didn’t kick Brian Roberts in the back. On the other hand, he was hired in part because of his reputation for working well with young players. When the O’s youngsters failed to develop this year, he was a goner. Bottom line is that the manager often pays when his team is this bad. Mostly I miss his resemblance to William Shatner.
3. Though Juan Samuel won’t be the long term solution, have you seen any indication he could be a manager some day? Has his fiery personality come out yet, and do you think it could have positive impact on the O’s?
The other night, Oriole DH Luke Scott lifted a fly ball to right. He stopped, sighed, flipped his bat toward the bat boy and started a slow jog towards first. The ball carried though, went off the wall and caromed off Nick Swisher’s iron glove. Scott took off, but too late. It should have been an inside-the-park HR but Scott’s laziness turned it into a triple.
The cameras panned toward the dugout between innings looking for a meltdown. Samuel was discussing the incident with Scott, even imitating Scott’s flip of the bat, but it wasn’t the explosion Scott deserved. So far, Samuel has been measured and professional at every turn. For him, its the right move. All Samuel needs to do is LOOK like a major league manager, get the team to show some signs of life, and he has a great line on his resume. If he throws a bat throwing temper tantrum, that is all anyone will remember.
Scott deserved the temper tantrum though.
4. Rumor has it that Bobby Valentine, Bob Melvin, and Eric Wedge are being considered. Who do you think the O’s will hire? Who do you wish they would hire? (not necessarily from the aforementioned list)
The O’s are searching for a manager with experience. Buck Showalter would be perfect for them. He has a history of succeeding with young players and rebuilding organizations. Unfortunately he also has a reputation for antagonizing his bosses so team owner Peter Angelos and team president Andy MacPhail will likely avoid him.
As a fan though, I don’t care if Showalter pisses in Peter Angelos’ Cheerios daily as long as he wins.
5. Tell us about some young Orioles Mets fans may not know much about, who may have an impact this weekend.
Last year, David Hernandez was a B prospect with a 93 MPH fastball that was a little too straight for the majors. Last month, the O’s moved him out of the rotation and into the pen. Freed of the need to go seven innings, Hernandez touches 97 on the radar gun. He got his first career save last night and has claimed the ninth inning job, at least until some of the injured arms return.
6. Most disappointing player, and most surprising?
There is a cast of thousands to pick from when it comes to disappointments, but I have to go with Adam Jones. Last year’s All-Star and Gold Glove winner has taken a big step back. Everyone understands that young players develop in fits and starts, but Jones’ regression has been horrible to see. He is hitting .251/.280/.393. He was always a free swinger, but he isn’t seeing the low pitch at all this year. His defense seems to have regressed as well.
As for most surprising, do you mean in a good way? Every day I am surprised that Garrett Atkins hasn’t been released. The Orioles are the only team in baseball without a home run from the first base position.
7. Are the Orioles on the right path, long term?
The Orioles are on the only possible path. They will never be able to outspend division rivals New York and Boston. They need to draft well, scout well, and teach the children well. They will live and die with their young players.
Is this crop of youngsters the one that will bring the Orioles back to prominence? It’s hard to tell. A lot of this year’s team was rushed to the majors because there was such a low level of talent in the organization. They are learning on the fly. But the organization has done a lot to restock the minor leagues. Big picture, the Orioles are doing what the have to do in order to compete with their divisional rivals.
8. Bottom of the 9th, 2 out, tie game, winning run on 3b. Who do you want to see hitting for the Orioles?
Ty Wigginton! Yeah, that Ty Wigginton. He slimmed down over the winter and is hitting with patience and power. Wiggy has been the Orioles’ only consistent offensive threat. His slash line is .279/.365/.512. He is tied for fifth in the AL with 13 home runs. If the Orioles actually put base runners in front of him he would have many more than his 35 RBIs.
Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on the Orioles. Friends, be sure to check out Dave’s blog Weaver’s Tantrum.
Again, thanks for having me here. I’d like to take the opportunity to remind you that 1969 was a total fluke. The Baltimore Orioles had the best team in baseball that year.
Yeah … whatever.