The Baltimore Orioles are off to a ugly 5-14 start, and it isn’t just one facet of the game that has struggled, but it really has been a team effort.
The Baltimore Orioles are back in Oriole Park at Camden Yards for their longest homestand of the season, a 10-game set against the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers.
This comes after losing six in a row, sweeps at the hands of the Boston Red Sox and in Detriot.
Only the Kansas City Royals, who are going through a rebuild, have a lower winning percentage than the Orioles in the American League.
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The Orioles’ losses are piling up in unique and ugly ways. Thursday was another dismal start by Alex Cobb, their high-priced free agent acquisition. Wednesday was an implosion of the bullpen, first by Darren O’Day in the eighth, and then Pedro Araujo finished it off.
Tuesday was another loss in which the Orioles failed to score more than two runs. The offense has not been good. The pitching, despite pretty good work by Andrew Cashner and excellence by Dylan Bundy, has struggled.
The relief pitching has struggled.
The defense isn’t immune either. Tim Beckham has struggled at third base. Manny Machado hasn’t been a platinum glove winner at short stop. Previous double plays are not getting turned, and extra outs are turning in to extra runs.
Some may want to bring out the axe. Get rid of whoever they feel is to blame for this. Some say that person is Dan Duquette, and he should go.
Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball discussed how there is a lot of blame to go around, and how getting rid of one person, or several, likely won’t get to the root of all the issues.
My frustrations right now lie in several places. My approach to this is, well, a bit more nuanced.
First, Manny Machado is hurting the team at shortstop. Buck is telling him he is moving back to third base.
If he doesn’t like it, that’s fine, then the rebuild starts as soon as I find a trade suitor for Machado.
If Buck won’t go back on his word and move him, then that’s fine, his time is Baltimore is over.
Machado isn’t going to be in Baltimore in 2019. And, I think the Orioles have seen enough to start this year to be okay with that.
The baserunning errors are always going to exist. The move to shortstop put Manny first, instead of the team. It clearly isn’t working. Showalter needs to step up and tell his best player that the needs him on the hot corner.
Second, I consider a similar ultimatum on Chris Davis.
Sure, Davis has been better lately. But I’m still considering sending him down. If he refuses that assignment, then he is released.
One albatross on an Orioles’ rebuild is the Davis contract. The team can never fully get away from the three outcome game (home run, strike out, walk) they are playing with Davis on the team.
Sure, it is a lot of money to release. But, Davis is not helping the team. And, if Duquette refuses to give up on Davis, then it is time for him to go.
If you are serious about making either of these moves, you are headed toward a rebuild. And, right now, the Orioles have no other option than to rebuild.
A rebuild in Baltimore means Chance Sisco at catcher with Caleb Joseph as the backup. It means Trey Mancini is at first base, with ideally an extended Jonathan Schoop at second base, and well…who knows at short stop and third base.
It features Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart, Anthony Santander and others in the outfield. I have no problem with Adam Jones coming back, but he isn’t returning to a rebuild, so trade him too.
The pitching staff features fewer changes, although they would be made if the team enters a rebuild.
The rotation would be the current four pitchers (Bundy, Cashner, Gausman, Cobb) and then I guess Chris Tillman to holdover until David Hess or Hunter Harvey is ready in 2019. You aren’t contending anyways, so see if Tillman can work it out.
The bullpen can be reworked. There is no need for a closer on a team that can’t win, so trade Brad Brach. Maybe keep Zach Britton, see how he is in his return and trade him at the deadline when his value is higher.
I would even consider trading Darren O’Day, who has been good at times and not good at others, making him pretty average.
Some type of kickstart is needed for the Baltimore Orioles to wake up the team.
What will wake up the team is to get rid of the illusion that they are competing in 2018, and moving forward with building toward a successful roster made up of players who are not three outcome offensive players moving forward.