I laid it all out in quite simple terms. I made a fairly short list of things the 2013 Orioles needed to do to prove the doubters wrong and carry their 2012 success into the 2013 season. Entering play today, the Orioles find themselves below .500 for the first time since the 2011 season ended. Why? You can point to the obvious: "It's been seven games, so it's relatively meaningless." Incorrect. "Their opponents have scored more runs than them four times." True, but insufficient. "Their defense and starting pitching have been shaky." Far too general. "A bunch of guys already got hurt." NOPE. The reason the Orioles find themselves in this early pickle is quite simple. They didn't listen to me!
Let's have a look-see at punkrawka's simple steps to a successful 2013 Orioles season and see how we're doing.
Buck Showalter resolves to play Wilson Betemit as a left-handed DH only.
I'll be completely fair: This one isn't Buck's fault. Betemit had to go and get hurt after I made up my resolutions, but before even Opening Day. Nonetheless, it's equally fair for me to point out that this is a resolution that hasn't been kept. Grade: INC
Adam Jones resolves to play a couple steps deeper in the outfield.
In Monday's game in Boston, as the seventh inning unraveled and led to a three-run homer that accounted for all of Boston's runs, Jones pulled up short on a playable fly ball at the wall in Fenway, arguably because he was on such a dead run just to get near it. And in Sunday's match against the Twins, Jones turned a routine fly ball into a double, admittedly due to the sun, but I'm sure having a longer run than necessary didn't help either. There's no sign that Jones has adopted a safer defensive stance so far. Grade: D
Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy resolve to lay off the junk low and away.
This is an interesting one. Hardy is really doing no better, with 5 strikeouts in 26 PAs. Jones' approach at the plate, however, seems quite different in our small sample size to date. He's showing a tremendous capability to run with the ball, wherever it ends up, landing a lot of slap hits on stuff outside of the zone. So while neither hitter has learned to lay off the junk, at least one of them is making lemonade. Grade: C-
Chris Davis resolves to catch balls that are thrown right at him.
I feel bad saying anything negative about Chris Davis after the monster week he had, I really do. When Chris Davis uncorked that go-ahead grand slam at the home opener, he probably earned a reprieve from any minor critiques for a while. And yet, here I am, critiquing a routine ground ball that rolled under Davis's glove at the end of Saturday's game and led to the Twins' winning run. Now, you might point out, the ball wasn't thrown at Davis, and you'd be right. But obviously my resolution intended to instruct Davis to complete all routine glovework. Between my poor instructions and Davis's other redeeming qualities, though, he gets the best mark out of any of my resolutions. Grade: B+
Jake Arrieta resolves not to come unglued in tight spots.
I haven't been hearing much from the "Team Jake" chorus after Friday's oh-so-typical Jake start: No idea where the ball was going, a constant tightrope with runners on base, and a general failure to execute. I don't want to hear about FIP, a couple borderline defensive miscues, or any other excuses. Jake is Jake. Grade: F
Dan Duquette resolves to gas up the Norfolk Express.
I wouldn't have actually expected this resolution to come into play yet; it's quite early in the season, and no one should earn demotions yet. But Duquette has actually picked up right where he left off. He kept Chris Tillman on the DL for four games to free up a roster spot; Yamaico Navarro has already made two trips up and down between the big club and Norfolk; but where's Conor Jackson with all these injuries and poor performances? Grade: B+
Wei-Yin Chen resolves to get deeper into ballgames.
Of all the starters in the first seven games, I'm the least worried about Chen. But the Chen-Showalter late-inning suicide pact seems to be alive and well. Chen has comported himself well in both of his starts so far, and then Showalter has dangled him out there while Orioles fans just watch his pitches flatten out and fly off of opposing hitters' bats for deeper and deeper flyballs. So whether Chen needs to continue working on conditioning issues or Showalter needs to see what we all see at home, something needs to change on this one. Solid starts are getting burned up. Grade: F
So there you have it. With the possible exception of Dan Duquette and the free pass for Chris Davis, I'm being ignored. The Orioles continue to disregard my sage advice at their own peril. I'll hear nothing of small sample sizes. If the Orioles want to right this ship, they need to heed my advice immediately. If things don't come back together and these problems persist, you'll hear about it again. If things start going right because my advice gets some respect, I'll acknowledge that as well. If the outcomes don't support my theories (i.e., if the Orioles improve without acting on these resolutions) . . . then this will be the last you hear of these issues.