“We’re so bad right now that for us back-to-back home runs means one today and another one tomorrow.” Earl Weaver
Michael Aubrey has Been a Bright Spot for the Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles tied this season’s American League losing streak at 11 games, well make that broke it with at 12 games tonight. However do not fear the Orioles cannot break their own team record losing streak unless they lose out and begin next year on a losing skid. Since the Orioles lost the first 21 games of the 1988 season and there are only 5 games left the worst that can happen are 17 straight losses. Since I have made a significant investment in team gear such as jerseys, t-shirts, hats and cell phone holders I do hope that this does not continue. The last time the Orioles won a game was back on September 16th. In every case they have found interesting if not painful ways to lose. There have been blow outs, and there have been meltdowns. Recently the O’s have taken to getting lots of hits and base runners and on occasion score a decent amount of runs but leaving lots of men on base. The result of course is when the pitching melted down the opposing team ended up outscoring the O’s.
Going into the month the O’s were well over 20 games behind the Yankees, so the remainder of the season was pretty much in the tank. A number of things contributed to the September collapse which was very much like the August collapse of the O’s AAA affiliate the Norfolk Tides. The Orioles are a team that has struggled in part due to injuries of key personnel as well as trades, just as the Tides were impacted by call-ups and injuries. The injuries have included All Star outfielder Adam Jones as well as Rookie of the Year contender Nolan Reimold and starting pitcher Brad Bergeson. Trades included closer George Sherrill and Designated Hitter Aubrey Huff and pinch hitter deluxe Oscar Salazar.
Alberto Castillo is Showing Promise as a Reliever
As the season has drawn to a close the team has made some moves that although prudent for the health and future of some of their young prospects. Several pitchers had reached the number of innings that the club wanted them to achieve during the season including Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz. Nolan Reimold as mentioned is injured but was playing injured most of the year and finally elected to have surgery on his frayed hamstring.
Until the last 12 games the O’s had one of the better team batting averages in the league but during this losing streak the team average has dropped significantly, especially in situations with runners on base or in scoring position. Pitching has been hard to come by and even fielding has not been always impressive. Even when starters have a good game going the relief staff has not been able to do the job resulting in a number of losses during this streak. It is like Earl Weaver said “The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” The Orioles are not getting much of anything right now.
Jeff Fiorentino seen here Hitting a Home Run off of Bartolo Colon should find a Home in the Majors
In spite of this there is reason to hope and there are some bright spots on the Orioles roster. Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergeson show great potential as does catcher Matt Wieters who has steadily gained confidence behind the plate and at bat. Others are showing signs that they could become productive members of the team for the next several years. Michael Aubrey at 1st Base has been quite consistent and may be in the process of winning a spot on next year’s active roster. Rookie pitchers Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz show great potential and reliever Alberto Castillo has done very well in his relief appearances since coming up this month. Among the veterans Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Luke Scott should be back and Jeremy Guthrie after a horrible start has began to get himself into his old form. Melvin Mora and Felix Pie should be back as well. If the pitching staff gets healthy and Tillman and Matusz pitch to the level expected the Orioles have a chance of at least being competitive next year even though I think that challenging the Yankees and Red Sox is a couple years off.
The Orioles have some very good prospects as well as rookies that I have not mentioned including pitchers David Hernandez, Jeff George and relievers Kam Mikalio and Jim Miller. There are also a number of position players such as infielder Brandon Snyder and utility man Brandon Pinckney who could find themselves on the team at some point.
One player that I have not mentioned who should stay in the majors is outfielder Jeff Fiorentino. Jeff has done very well since his call up however his comparative lack of power at the plate, despite being a great hitter in being able to get on base combined with the O’s outfield depth may mean that he has no place on this team. With his speed, fielding ability, steadiness at the plate and all round hustle he needs to stay in the majors even if not on the O’s. A place that might work for Jeff might be in San Francisco where in a park not geared for power his ability as a situational hitter would help the team. Likewise his speed and fielding abilities would also be a good fit in the large outfield expanse at AT&T Park.
The one spot that I think that the team needs a change is the Field Manager Dave Trembley. Trembley seems to be a good teacher but is not terribly inspirational. Admittedly he began the year with a weak squad but something is not working and I do like his calm, but I wonder if the teams needs fire rather than calm right now. My choice would be for the O’s to make a serious offer for Bobby Valentine now that he has returned from Japan.