Monday, May 05, 2008

Mile Marker 5: Birds headed in the wrong direction

For the first time all season, the Orioles had a truly disappointing week. Since Monday's game with Chicago hasn't officially been completed yet, the O's have now dropped three straight series, and seem to now be headed towards what many of the expectations were for this team: the basement of the AL East.

The problem really is the offense. There just isn't enough of it. It's not a real surprise, when Kevin Millar is your cleanup hitter (and I know that has been changed) you are signalling that your offense has some deficiencies. The scary problem is there probably isn't much that can be done. Manager Dave Trembley has tried shifting the parts around in the lineup. That seems to have rejuvenated Nick Markakis a little bit. At least giving him some more pitches to hit, and he's responded with some power of late. But the Orioles are counting on him to hit better than the .273 that he currently is hitting at. He is on pace to hit 30+ homers, so you can't fault his production. He's got an OBP better than .400 so getting him higher in the order isn't a bad thing. I wouldn't even mind if the Orioles batted him leadoff and let the more aggressive Brian Roberts get some chances in RBI situations.

For the most part, the Orioles had to expect to get more from most of their players than what they are getting right now. Maybe the exception is Aubrey Huff and Luis Hernandez. Huff is hitting .277 with 5 homers, while the light hitting Hernandez is right around .250.

But guys like Melvin Mora (.258), Millar (.214), Luke Scott (1 Home Run), Ramon Hernandez (.198 - although he's raised the average of late), Roberts (.266, OBP .352), Adam Jones (.239) have probably all performed below their capabilities.

Meanwhile, the pitching with the exception of Steve Trachsel, has probably been better than could be expected. I'm anxious to see how Garrett Olson performs this week. I've never thought he'd definitely be a top-notch major leaguer. But he started the season solidly at Norfolk (AAA) and gave the O's a great effort last week, and might have been the big bright spot of the week.

You have to wonder how much longer the O's go with Trachsel. He continues to get hit and unlike the other starters, isn't giving his team the opportunity to win each night. Hayden Penn (had a good start at Norfolk tonight), Radhames Liz (had been pitching well after starting poorly but struggled in his last start, or arms in the bullpen Matt Albers or James Johnson will all soon deserve Trachsel's innings, if the veteran can't get guys out.

The Orioles did get Greg Acquino through waivers and he closed out Penn's win for the Tides tonight. They also recalled Lance Cormier from Norfolk. Cormier is a guy who has shown promise before but has never been fully healthy. He's a guy, I was happy to see the O's sign in the offseason. He was terrible in spring training and didn't make the team as a result, but pitched well in Norfolk during the first month, and earned the promotion when Randor Bierd went on the DL. Bierd, the Rule V pickup, had pitched very well for the big club, but is out with a shoulder impingement. Hopefully, it doesn't turn into anything serious. Cormier has pitched three hitless innings since being called up.

One thought I had today was maybe the Rockies would have some increased interest in Brian Roberts now that Troy Tulowitzi is out until at least the All-Star break with a torn quadriceps. Obviously BRob isn't going to play SS for them. But Clint Barmes who had been playing a lot of 2B would fill in at SS and Roberts could play 2B and provide some offense at the top of their lineup. Included within the Rockies top 10 prospects by Baseball America are two shortstops, a definite area of need for the Birds. With Tulowitzi locked up long term in Denver they maybe blocked. Chris Nelson, the #7 prospect hit 19 homers at A ball last year. He has started slowly at AA this year. Hector Gomez, the #4 prospect, is from the SS production factory of San Pedro de Macrois. He has been limited to 3 at-bats this year though. I really don't know if either of them has a true future, but it is an area of need, and I would think if the Orioles could get the top Rockies position prospect in Ian Stewart, who seems to be blocked by Garrett Atkins at third base, and a few young arms to go with one of the two SS prospects it might make some sense to deal Roberts to the defending National League champs.

I'm still not convinced that the Orioles shouldn't try to hold onto Roberts, but if they decide to deal him, and the Rockies name has been mentioned before, here is a spot where they might be able to get some more out of his value due to the Rockies injury misfortune and their desire to win right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment