Nolan Reimold is being tendered a contract with the Baltimore Orioles, opening the door for him to compete for a position in left field and as a right-handed DH.
I will go on record as highly pleased with this move. I have always believed Reimold to possess the greatest potential skills of any of the long-term Orioles players. And I’m not alone in that sentiment. If I had a dollar for every time I ever heard Rick Dempsey say that Nolan was the best Birds player with 40+ homer potential, well, we could go to dinner together. (But then another guy came along who hit 53 of them!)
Of course, the rap on Reimold is that his potential is never realized because he is always hurt. Well, yes, there is that. But sometimes fans forget that some of these injuries have come from flipping over rails in Chicago, for example, and crashing into walls, etc.
Prior to the injury that took him out early in 2012, we saw what a healthy Nolan Reimold could do … (.313/.333/.627), all while carrying the team to a great start that initiated this new and revived era of Baltimore baseball.
When Nolan is right, the ball jumps off his bat; but he was never right in 2013. He was not the same guy; and that he needed a second surgery to fuse two vertebrae in his neck was not a surprise to me.
All the word from varied reports from his home in Florida is that he is far ahead of schedule on this recovery as compared to the past, and specifically to last year at this time.
So I still retain hope for this soft-spoken fellow. Call me an easy pushover if you must, but anyone who has read my past three seasons of baseball blogging will know that I’ve been in this guy’s corner all along. And if you keep coming back here to this new blog, you are going to hear me be surprisingly quick to say that the Birds should be very willing to cut loose a couple of fan favorites.
Reimold was at one point a fan favorite, but baseball is a world of “what have you done for me lately?” I’ve been shocked actually at the vitriolic and mean-spirited nature of Orioles comment boards about Nolan. Here are a few negative examples:
- A familiar thing around here the last few years – Nolan Reimold medical updates. Enough! Non-tender him. Bring in someone more dependable.
- Tata Nolan. It was worth a try last year and it didn’t work. Not worth the roster spot this year – wishing and hoping – when we are now a contender. Best of luck somewhere else.
- I can’t fault the organization if they non-tender Reimold. He has had his chances and always gets injured, the latest being the most serious. I vote for getting another outfield who has played more games than he has missed (a good every day outfielder).
- Please stop talking about “Reimold and decisions.” This guy has let us down year after year. The culture has changed here in Baltimore and this guy reminds me of players we would talk about during the 14 years of losing baseball; so please no more Reimold stories. Noboby cares! Move on!
I believe it to be a reasonable argument, even with the health concerns, that Reimold is as good and affordable of an option in left field as anything else right now. Apart from an expensive free agent, this is the reality for the Orioles. Think about it …
Nate McLouth has become a short-term sweetheart to many Orioles fans, but his decent performance in 2013 has made him one of those expensive free agents in a weak year of FA talent. And while appreciative of his sojourn in Baltimore, his numbers dropped off significantly in the latter half of last season, raising the concern that the prior good numbers were the aberration. He hit .275 for the first half of the season, but dropped to .233 for the second half. And then there is the matter of his inability to hit lefties – .209 as compared to .272 for right-handers.
Henry Urrutia seems to me like a very good option to consider. I know there is strong sentiment that he is not ready defensively and with some finer points like base-running … well, get him ready fast! The guy is an athlete; make it happen.
The 2013 team average in all of MLB for left fielders was .259 with 19 homers and 72 RBIs. The Orioles were .251 with 16 homers and 42 RBIs. It certainly seems to me that some combination of a healthy Reimold and Urrutia would be able to do this, or more.
But again, Reimold being tendered is not going to break the bank. To gain a perspective, his probable salary will amount to about 1.5% of the 2014 Orioles payroll. That is certainly worth the gamble on his health and the hopes that he can contribute again at a high level.