Saturday, July 31, 2010

Showalter will have work cut out for him

In case you missed it, the Orioles have hired Buck Showalter to be the team's next manager. The move has been speculated about for weeks, and the move was finally made official on Thursday. Showalter will take over for interim manager Juan Samuel officially on Tuesday, though Showalter has, kindly enough, offered Samuel the third-base coach position on his staff. Samuel will apparently decide on whether or not to take the job this weekend.

Anyway, back to Showalter. I wrote about Showalter's potential hiring more than two weeks ago, and in the second article linked above, here's what I wrote about his biggest challenge:
Showalter is an interesting choice for the Orioles, and arguably his most important task will be to get more production out of the team's younger players. Highly regarded prospects like Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and others have shown promise and seemingly have the talent to produce at the Major League level, but they haven't been able to put all of the pieces together yet. Maybe Showalter, who himself moved up the coaching ranks in the minor leagues before becoming the head coach of the Yankees, will do a better job of helping them get to the next level.
Now, it's not unusual for a team's young players to struggle, obviously. However, it is rather odd that all of these players have been struggling at the same time. To improve at all, let alone at a steady pace, the O's must get production from their young talent. That simply hasn't happened this year, as the following players have all had their growing pains: Jake Arrieta (24), Brad Bergesen (24), Brian Matusz (23), Matt Wieters (24), Adam Jones (24), and Felix Pie (25). Josh Bell (23) will probably also see regular playing time shortly. And David Hernandez (25) and Jason Berken (26) have seemingly found productive roles in the O's bullpen. [Editor's Note: I also left out Chris Tillman (22).]

The O's still have some other talent -- Nick Markakis (26), Jeremy Guthrie (31), Brian Roberts (32), and Luke Scott (32) (barring any trades) -- but not a whole lot of it. So basically, if that young group of players doesn't start to perform in the next year or so, the O's are in an enormous amount of trouble. Again, it's not likely that things can get much worse at this point -- the O's are 32-71 right now -- but at least there's a glimmer of hope. If Wieters and company all disappoint, though, there won't be much of that left at all.

The good news is that all of those players are getting experience playing at the highest level this season. Unfortunately, they haven't gotten the results. Here are their stats at this point in the season, with the hitters listed first:

Matt Wieters: .245/.320/.371, 8 HR, 1.3 WAR
Adam Jones: .267/.302/.433, 15 HR, 1.1 WAR
Felix Pie (in limited action): .250/.295/.398, 2 HR, -0.6 WAR

Jake Arrieta: 5.47 ERA, 4.27 K/9, 5.64 BB/9, -0.1 WAR
Brad Bergesen: 6.95 ERA, 3.58 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, -0.3 WAR
Brian Matusz: 5.46 ERA, 7.21 K/9, 3.72 BB/9, 1.2 WAR
David Hernandez: 4.21 ERA, 7.64 K/9, 4.61 BB/9, 0.5 WAR
Jason Berken: 2.79 ERA, 6.36 K/9, 2.79 BB/9, 0.8 WAR

Buck Showalter, this is the hand you've been dealt. It's time that the O's received more production from their youngsters. Make it happen.

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