Rather than analyze what appears to be another Orioles loss tonight, this time against the Braves, I figured I'd post a couple of comments I made today on Roch Kubatko's MASN blog in response to some odd suggestions from a couple of O's fans on what the team should do to get out of its current funk.
Feel free to chime in if you agree, disagree, or have a comment of your own.
"Matt K. said:
After reading some of these comments, it's pretty evident how fickle so many Orioles fans are. Someone suggested hitting Roberts 9th and Andino 1st -- really, that's the solution? Actually, that's a perfect way for Trembley to get fired -- to make a whole bunch of snap decisions that don't make sense.
Another person suggested trading Guthrie for a third baseman -- well, what kind of trade value does he have right now with an ERA around 5.50? What kind of player would that get the O's?
As unfortunate as it is, teams go through slumps. I know the Orioles are 10 games below .500 now, but sit back and relax: the team is improving. Wieters is starting to feel more comfortable at the plate, and Reimold has been better than most O's fans could hope for, especially after watching Felix Pie for the first part of the season.
The pitching staff is getting younger and better, and that's not even counting the top pitching prospects that should be on the way within a year or so. So what if Roberts, Jones, Markakis, Huff, and Mora are underperforming a bit? The O's front office knows what it has in those guys, and they will turn it around sooner or later -- they're too talented not to. It's a shame that they're all struggling at the same time, but they will break out of it.
The worst thing to do would be to overreact and make poor choices now. Hey, Marco Scutaro is playing well this season, let's trade Markakis for him!"
A response to my comment, with a comment of my own following that:
I put Andino first because he's actually been hitting decent lately. Also, he's a base-stealing threat. What is your definition of a leadoff guy? A guy who gets on base and can steal second? Yeah.
I put Roberts 9th because although he hasn't been hitting lately, it takes pressure off of him. It also allows Mora and Weiters to see a few more pitches since teams will be trying to get them out before Roberts gets up. I wouldn't expect Roberts to be batting 4th-6th because I don't view him as a power guy as much as Huff, Scott, Jones, and Reimold.
There's nothing 'fickle' about that. It doesn't follow the set-in-stone ways of people like you who have one view on how things should be, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't work. This wasn't the 'what would Matt K. do' question.
I wonder if you think Walker should still be in the bullpen because it was a fickle move to get rid of him after he had a couple bad outings? I mean, he has had a history of success. Why change anything?
(My response:) How is there not anything fickle about moving Andino into the leadoff spot and moving Roberts 9th? So Andino has been in a bit of a good stretch -- so what? He's hitting .254, and he has 1 stolen base in 2 attempts. And in 207 career at bats, his on-base percentage is .260. Granted, that's not a huge sample size, but that's not exactly tiny either. He's an 8th or 9th place hitter, and putting him in the leadoff spot for anything other than a game or two would make little sense.
On the other hand, Roberts is hitting .284 and hits plenty of doubles. He also gets on base a lot -- his career OBP is .355. His walks are down a bit, but he's still getting on base at an effective rate. Even if he's had a bad stretch, he's still the guy the O's want at the top of the lineup; why move him to the 9th spot, and how exactly does that take the pressure off of him if every time he has a slump he has to worry about being moved down? And also, if he's doing so bad as to be hitting 9th, why would other teams be concerned about hurrying up and getting the hitters before him out before he comes up? That logic doesn't make any sense.
There's no reason for you to get angry about what I said, and it's not just the way "only Matt K. thinks." If you ran a poll, maybe 1 percent of O's fans would choose Andino to hit leadoff over Roberts. That's not just what I think, it's a fact; Roberts is a much, much better hitter than Andino.
Walker is a completely different case altogether. He turns 38 on July 1st, and he wasn't effective at all last year. I didn't even think he'd make the team out of spring training and was shocked when he did. I do think the O's need to make a change here or there, but what's the point in overreacting and messing with the whole roster? The O's have a plan, and Roberts, Markakis, Jones, etc. are all in it. Moving them up and down the order just because the O's have been losing lately wouldn't change much, especially if you buy into the fact that batters' placement in the order doesn't matter a whole lot. I think it matters some, but obviously you think it is extremely important. I guess we'll just agree to disagree."
Another response to my first comment, with my comments again after:
Matt K wrote: 'Another person suggested trading Guthrie for a third baseman -- well, what kind of trade value does he have right now with an ERA around 5.50? What kind of player would that get the O's?'
I assume you're directing that towards me? The answer is, plenty. Not what you may have gotten last year, but he's got enough of a track record that you get one premium prospect and a couple of lower tier prospects. Easily. Whether or not there's a 3rd base prospect out there on a contending team, I don't know without doing research. The point is, this teams NEEDS a 3rd baseman for the future.
(My response:) Really, a team would give up a premium prospect right now for Jeremy Guthrie? Look, I like Guthrie, but there's something wrong with him lately. His walks and strikeouts are about the same percentage as last year, but he's giving up way more home runs, plus opposing batters are hitting .291 off of him. For the Guthrie of last season, I'm sure the Orioles could have gotten back a nice prospect or two, but now, I'm not so sure. If it was possible, I guess that would be a smart move, but I don't know.
By the way, the Orioles don't just need a third baseman for the future -- how about potential starters at the rest of the infield positions, not counting catcher, of course. Snyder could work at first base, I guess, but second base (after Roberts is gone) and shortstop are question marks right now.
I know what you're trying to say, but it's hard to get another team to part with a potential solid player for players that aren't performing that well. What is Guthrie really worth at this point?"
Again, it's not a real big deal that there are some strange opinions out there on what the Orioles should or shouldn't be doing, but I thought these two were particularly odd.