"I'm apologetic to fans who pay to come and watch the Orioles and watch us lose, in this case, because of me. I'm apologetic to teammates for the inability to help them win a game in four starts." -- Jeremy Guthrie
Let us examine this quote for a moment. Sure, Mr. Guthrie went a little overboard with the apologies, yes he pitched well enough in all his previous starts, giving the Orioles the chance to win in each of them. But Jeremy Guthrie brings up a good point. "[T]o fans who pay to come and watch the Orioles and watch us lose," that is right. Our fans have paid good money this year only to see our team win once at home. But wait there is more. Is it not the job of the Baltimore Oriole organization to win games? Yes, of course it is.
This is done one of two ways. First, when you have the skills within your major league club, you field the best possible team, at least six out of every seven games. Second, when you don't have the talent, you prepare your team, each and every game to, as soon as possible, create that talent.
To figure out what route the Orioles need to take you must first examine what they are working with and what the expectations are. Coming into this year, the big goal was taking a shot at the .500 mark. We would achieve this goal, with a foundation of young hitters and young pitchers coupled with some newer veterans. The goal being, the veterans fill in for, Josh Bell, Brandon Snyder, and the numerous pitching prospects. Thus, we have a mix of young and old, future Orioles and stopgaps.
Now look where this team is. Four and Eighteen. A .182 winning percentage. The worst team in baseball. A 0-3, a 1-5, even say a 1-10 start could be brushed off as a poor week to the season that will soon be forgotten. But look at the Astros, they started at zero and eight. Now, they are 8-12, not a great record, but going on a 8-4 run shows that they picked it up after an awful start. Four and eighteen is more then a bad start. It's a poor team that doesn't have whatever it takes to change how they play.
So how do you fix a clearly broken team. You first inspect it. 9th in the AL in batting average, 13th in walks, last in runs, and if you take out Ty Wiggington, second to last in the long ball. In the AL, we are 12th in fielding percentage and fourth in errors. Meanwhile we are 14th in ERA, well you have seen this team, it seems like our pitching has been our bright spot. So where does this high team ERA come from? The short answer, Bergesen (14 er), Albers (9 er), The back end of the bullpen (Johnson and Gonzo) and the last Guthrie start. Pitching clearly is not really the issue here, other then a few bullpen flukes.
Now lets fix the problem. Julio Lugo 3-28, he has no place on this team in the future, he is struggling, there are a bevy of utility players in baseball. Make the fans happy, get rid of Julio Lugo, point blank. Lou Montanez, 4-27, a call up filling in for the hurt Pie. Would it hurt to call up Jeff Salazar, 20-67 with 3 homers and 13 runs batted in, sure he is older then Lou, but if the goal is to win games, why keep him in there. It's the same theory behind having Hughes play for Atkins, whoever can hit gets the job. Then there is Luke Scott, we all love Luke, but he has always been a streaky hitter, either super hot or super cold. We probably lost our chance to trade him, so we really have no choice but to platoon him. Garrett Atkins has been very bad, but is he DFA' able? His 19 total bases barely beats out Nolan Reimold. Because of his "caliber" and the lack of a back up, he probably gets at least another month before you start to entertain thoughts of letting him go. In the mean time you hope that either Josh Bell, Scott Moore, Snyder heats up and if either does soon, you should say adios to Atkins.
In the mean time Hughes is doing a good job covering for him and should take a permanent spot in the lineup. Now you have a list of players who are doing well enough, Izturis, Tejada, Wieters, Wiggy, and now Nick. But that leaves us with Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold. I say you keep trotting them out there, as long as they are healthy, until they start hitting. But when a hitter is in a slump he needs instruction, he needs someone to point to his swing and make him change it, or point to his approach and make him change it. Let the crow go. If the record gets any worse, which it probably will, you have to let go of Diamond Dave, let people know that you want things to shake up and change, while you are at it, pat Terry Crowley on the back, say thank you for your time, but now you most go.
For the bullpen we should be getting some help from AAA and Koji, with Brad coming up soon, maybe Tillman and maybe Arrieta. This means folks like Albers can pack their packs and it opens the possibility to trade a Millwood or a Guthrie at some point.
In the mean time the front office needs to show they mean to put out the best possible team. The Baltimore Orioles are a major league team, not a AAA team. They need to play like a major league team, the players on this organization have failed to do so in this horrendous 22 game span. Being a Major League baseball player is an honor and a privilege that must be earned. Right now, very few of these players have deserved a spot on a Major League roster this year. Start cutting ties with the players who can't prove themselves, make the Orioles players earn their spot. Let them know that if they aren't ready to play in the Majors that the team is willing to put in someone who is. Rhyne Hughes for Garrett Atkins.