The Orioles aren't confronted with many dilemma's they would like to have these days. Usually, they have to figure out which minor leaguer is the best candidate to be promoted in order to replace a struggling player on the big league roster. However, the Orioles are confronted with the opposite situation.
A few months ago, ESPN.com featured a piece on the O's young outfield (pictured) including Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis. There's no argument that the trio make up one of the best young outfields in the majors. However, what ESPN did not account for at the time is the Orioles new-found depth in the outfield. With Felix Pie's increased playing time and opportunity to prove why he was once the Cubs number one minor league prospect, number 18 has suddenly burst onto the scene as more than just your everyday fourth outfielder.
Since his cycle game, Pie is batting .383 going 18 for 47 over that span of 15 games. What's most impressive is that his power numbers are drastically improving in just a short period of time. On August 12, his slugging percentage was stuck at an unimpressive .336. Since then, he's raised his slugging to .457, a 121 point increase in only a couple weeks! It doesn't appear that this recent hot streak is simply a fluke. A few weeks ago, the O's hitting coach Terry Crowley announced that he helped Pie make his swing more compact. Working hard with Crowley all season, Pie has shown instant improvement which suggests he isn't just getting lucky.
So the dilemma the Orioles are in now is what to do with Pie. He's filled his role as the team's fourth outfielder very well but is he beginning to outgrow his role? With Adam Jones return to the lineup after a mild back injury, Pie is back on the bench except for Sunday games and the occasional spot start. I would expect Trembley to start letting Pie play more often than he has in the past. However, Nolan Reimold earned his spot in left field months ago so how does Pie factor into the O's future? I understand that Pie needs to prove himself over a longer stretch of time but it wouldn't surprise me if the Orioles have four legitimate young outfielders by the time the off-season rolls around.
Is it feasible to let Nolan Reimold take a shot at playing first base during spring training next year? He's only played one game at first in his professional career but the Orioles have been successful at converting players in the past. Melvin Mora was brought up as an outfielder and they were able to develop him into a solid third baseman, one of the hardest positions on the field. The Orioles gave Luke Scott, a career outfielder, an opportunity to play first base this season and he's filled in adequately for Huff's vacancy.
Or is it more feasible to let go of someone like Luke Scott in order to allow Reimold to be the DH next year? As much as I like Luuuuke Scott and his scorching hot streaks, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing him go. In the past, I would've been completely against trading Scott because he is only 31 and seems to have a decent number of productive years left. He also recently signed a contract extension. However, two or three years from now, do you see the 34 year old Luke Scott playing a bigger role than Nolan Reimold or Felix Pie in the O's future? Or would you be ok with developing Nolan Reimold only as a DH when he's proven he can field?
Andy MacPhail has stressed that the Orioles should have an inventory of young players. I couldn't agree more but at some point, the O's need to distribute their wealth and surplus of young players at certain positions in order to fill holes in the roster where perhaps they don't have players waiting in the wings. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Orioles don't have incredible depth in their minor league system at first base. How about we give Reimold a shot at first and go from there?