The Baltimore Orioles have the worst record in baseball, and they are also playing a listless form of baseball that makes it appear they are going through the motions.
The Baltimore Orioles aren’t just the worst team in baseball, but they are playing like it too.
The wins are often close games, where fans are waiting for the other shoe to drop. The losses are often ugly games with either no offense, bad pitching, or a combination of the two. Lastly, the Orioles are a whopping 20 games out of first place, more than they were at the end of the 2017 season.
Just a reminder, they still have over 100 games to go. This team could lose 100 games. This team could be one of the worst in team history. Which is astounding, because the team has some great players. Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, to name a few.
The blame goes everywhere.
Dan Duquette (or whoever has constructed this roster) for a one-dimensional offense that lives and dies by the home run.
Buck Showalter for an overreliance on track record and trusting his veterans. Some of the players, including Machado, for their work, to potentially disrupt team chemistry. Chris Davis, for his work in having one of the worst seasons in baseball history.
It is all so bad.
But, there is some hope to be found in the minor leagues.
Let’s take a look there, and avert our eyes from the massive dumpster fire that is the major league club.
Ironically, of the latest news section of the Orioles’ website, five of the eight items look to the future.
Those articles include Ryan Mountcastle, who has three home runs in his last seven games and has eclipsed his RBI total from part of last season at Double-A Bowie in just 18 games.
Speaking of Bowie, this week’s player of the week is Cedric Mullins, who hit a cool .560 with five RBIs and nine runs scored last week. For the season, Mullins is hitting .313/.361/.510 with 28 runs batted in. Sounds like he is ready for a call up, either to Triple-A Norfolk or straight to Baltimore.
The Norfolk Tides are just half a game out of first place in the Triple-A International League. Now, I will concur that most of these guys are not future Orioles, or if they are, are not much more than Triple-A players.
However, Mike Yastrzemski is showing he could be a utility outfielder. Joey Rickard has already shown that. DJ Stewart is hitting .271 and leading the team with six home runs. He will be in Baltimore later this year.
Renato Nunez, recently acquired, is hitting .300 in 13 games. Drew Dosch is hitting just under .300, and on a team in need of a third baseman, could be an option moving forward now that he is healthy.
How can this optimism at the lower levels be supplemented?
Well, that is the sticking point, because no one knows who has a say in the front office. And that is why the overall view of the team is pessimistic. The Orioles are like a rudderless ship.
They need to get back to spending in the international market. It is something they have to.
And, they also need to dismantle this team and trade anyone who will not be a key piece to the team in 2020. That means one rebuild year to get guys ready for the major leagues.
Sure, these guys may be popular players. It doesn’t matter.
Guys are popular when they help the team win. Davis was beloved in 2012 and 2014. Now, not so much. Chris Tillman was always underestimated, Orioles fans said. Now, they just want him gone.
The Orioles have to do this the right way. Machado, Jones, Schoop, Mark Trumbo, Davis (we can hope), Danny Valencia, Pedro Alvarez, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, maybe even Kevin Gausman shouldn’t be in black and orange by the trade deadline.
This leaves Trey Mancini, Chance Sisco and some of the pre-mentioned minor leaguers as players of the future. An outfield of Mullins, Stewart and Austin Hays excites me! Mancini at first base, Mountcastle at second with a few questions on the left side of the infield.
The bullpen can be anchored by Mychal Givens and Tanner Scott.
None of this includes any of the returns from trades. Addison Russell may not be the best piece the Orioles can get for Machado, but he could help the left side of the infield out.
This team would be younger, more exciting, and probably more successful than the one they have now.
But, it all starts at the top. And the decisions of ownership and management could rebuild this team into contenders in relatively short order, or lead them back to the dark ages.