Earl Weaver like him or not knew how to manage and motivate
“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” Earl Weaver
Well if you are an Orioles fan like me you have got to be wondering what is going on in Birdland. The Orioles sports fans are losing and are patently not following the advice of their legendary Orioles skipper Earl Weaver. After a perfectly miserable 2009 season the Orioles looked like they had righted the ship and were ready if not to be competing for the AL East title at least to be competitive and playing .500 ball. Veteran hitters like Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins were added to the line-up and last year’s crop of rookies including Catcher Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold were expected to start shining. Additionally with Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Felix Pie in the lineup the hitting drought of last year was expected to end. In the pitching department great things were expected as the young arms of the O’s supplemented by veteran Kevin Millwood acquired from the Rangers over the winter were also expected to perform at a higher level than last year.
Matt Wieters is developing well for the O’s
Unfortunately no plan survives first contact with the enemy and it looks like the Orioles who definitely have the talent and potential to be competitive need to find a way to win. After losing their opener in Tampa they won the second game in that series but haven’t seen a win since. They lost the third game in Tampa and returned home to be swept by both the Blue Jays and the Rays before losing last night in Oakland to the surging Athletics. With a 1 win and 9 losses the O’s are tied with the Houston Astros for the Marianas Trench of Major League Baseball and as of the moment show no sign of coming out of this crash.
Miguel Tejada brought back for his bat leads the O’s in RBIs but is not hitting well for average…yet
The team batting average is only .232 and the have scored a total of 29 runs in their first ten games and their on base percentage is a mere .309. Neither are they stealing bases with only 3 stolen so far this year. Felix Pie is leading the team in hitting at .400 with a on base percentage of .455 and slugging percentage of .650. Miguel Tejada leads the team in RBIs with 7 nearly a quarter of the Orioles total run output. Matt Wieters is showing signs of maturity at the plate hitting .313 and an OBP of .405. However some of the bats which are expected to deliver have not woken up yet and maybe it is time to invoke prayers to Jobu to wake them up. Brian Roberts is now on the 15 day Disabled List and has been replaced at second by Justin Turner called up from the O’s AAA affiliate the Norfolk Tides.
The pitching staff widely regarded as having some of the best arms and potential in the majors has fared no better with a 4.89 ERA giving up the most hits with 97 hits to their opponents in these ten games and they have allowed 32 walks. In one area the pitching staff is doing well, the can strike out opponents ranking third in the majors with 80. Kevin Millwood leads the staff with a 2.13 ERA while rookie Brian Matusz has the team’s only win and leads the team with 15 strike outs. The biggest disappointment has been newly acquired closer Mike Gonzalez. Gonzales has blown two saves and lost both games and has an 18.0 ERA. He is on the 15 day DL and the O’s have called up Kam Mickolio from Norfolk as a middle relief man while moving Jim Johnson to the closer role.
Now it is certainly very early in the season but losses in April count just the same as losses in September and losing nine of your first ten games puts you in a very deep hole to start the season. However at this point one has to start asking what is going on. The O’s are a very talented team and by all rights should be doing much better than their record and statistics suggest.
Orioles Manager Dave Trembley….”Nice guys…finish last?”
At the end of last year I laid the blame on Orioles Manager Dave Trembley. As I said then:
“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.”
From “Oh, Oh, Oh O’s….The Orioles Skid Continues….” September 29th 2009 at https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/oh-oh-oh-o%e2%80%99s%e2%80%a6-the-orioles-skid-continues-but-there-are-some-bright-spots/
Please do not get me wrong. I think a lot of Dave Trembley, however the team seems to have little life and it is my opinion that a very motivational manager with proven success at all levels of baseball like Bobby Valentine would be an ideal choice to manage the Orioles. With so much of the season left I do not think anything is gained by keeping Trembley at the helm. Now is it possible that Tremblay and his managerial style could turn the team around….certainly. He is popular with the players a gentleman and a very nice person but I’m not so sure that he is the man to make this happen. In addition to Valentine Clint Hurdle who has managed at Norfolk and led the Rockies to the World Series in 2007 is coaching at Texas and if one wanted a Baltimore connection there is Don Baylor who is currently the hitting coach for the Rockies. If an interim manager is needed the Orioles could reach down to AAA Norfolk for Tides manager Gary Allenson who has the advantage of having worked with many of the younger O’s for the last four years and managed the Bluefield Orioles of the Appalachian League as well as the Ottawa Lynx before they moved to Norfolk and became the Tides. He has a long history of managing in the minors and it may be his time to hit the bigs.
Regardless of what course the Orioles take it is imperative that they start winning. Success breads success and as Chuck Tanner said: “I don’t think a manager should be judged by whether he wins the pennant, but by whether he gets the most out of the twenty-five men he’s been given.” Unfortunately I don’t think that Dave Tremblay is getting the most of this very talented young team and even though it is very early in the season it is not too soon to make the change at the top. As Leo Durocher said “What are we out at the park for, except to win?”
I’m hoping that the Birds will turn it around soon.