What's Steve Trachsel gotta do to get a win around here? At 1-3, Trachsel has really only pitched poorly one time in his first six starts, a loss at Tampa Bay that he certainly earned.
I'll be fair. I'm rough on Loewen for all those walks, and Trachsel, too, is walking more (16) than he whiffs (12). But Lowen has walked 26 in 30 innings, Trachsel 16 in 35 innings. Neither of them are giving up many hits -- opponents are batting .239 off of Loewen and .229 off of Trachsel. Loewen has him beat in ERA, 3.56 to 4.08. Realistically, it's unlikely either of them can keep that kind of pace.
But I find it easier right now to root for Trachsel than I do Loewen because Trachsel is a 36-year old with no stuff who has to try to work the corners and pray no one launches his junk into the sixteenth deck. Loewen has the stuff to challenge hitters more and trust his defense, which he did more in his last start. It resulted in him allowing seven hits over his usual five innings, but he only walked two. It wasn't his "best" start of the year, but it was probably the one where he pitched most effectively. Drop and drive, Adam! Drop and drive! (Get well soon!)
Trachsel is somewhat like Rodrigo Lopez, though Rigo Suave lived and mostly died on his slider. Neither of them have the heat to come into the happy zone more than once or so a game, and they have to hope they can hit their spots. If they don't, it's a long day. If they do, they can be very effective.
Poor Steve Trachsel has pitched his ass off and has almost nothing to show for it, a stark contrast to his 2006, when he pitched quite poorly and won 15 games because the Mets were a DH spot away from being an Arena Baseball team. (Oh, Jim Palmer, you never get old.)
What I'm more worried about right now is the fact that it seems like yesterday that this team was 11-7 and really starting to cook. Ten games later, the O's are 12-16 and falling right the hell apart. You have to question the leadership all around, from Angelos on down. We've all spent enough breath in our lives on Peter Angelos, and let me just say this right now: Forget it. He's not going anywhere, he's not changing, and it's to the point where it feels like only dumb luck is going to save this franchise as long as he's at the helm, because it's Angelos who has appointed such successful figureheads as Syd Thrift, Jim Beattie, Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette.
God knows I want to like Flanny. He seems like a really good guy, a down to earth sort who doesn't make much of being a former player, and a pretty good one for a while, at that. And he also seems like he honestly believes the things he says, like Jay Gibbons can hit and Melvin Mora's due to turn it around any day now.
So I don't really wish to see Flanagan go. There's only so much he can do, and who would Angelos replace him with, anyway? Someone with their own mind that will take him to task to get players signed or traded for? Please. We saw the end of "My Own Man" type of guys when Davey Johnson was run out of town for thinking.
Sam Perlozzo and Leo Mazzone are killing me. Their unending optimism is ridiculous, because it's horseshit. We heard all last year about the great bullpen sessions of everyone from Roddy Lopez to Bruce Chen to Mazzone pets Ortiz and Brower, and none of them EVER came around in an actual game that other people could actually see. I don't want anymore "focus and determination," I want something to happen. Cabrera is where he was in 2005. Congratulations! Loewen is hurting and has been knocking on heaven's door all season. Mazzone pet Wright has been on the DL two times in one month. Bedard has been outstanding if you don't account for all those hits he's giving up by being somewhat predictable, and all those jacks that are getting hit off of him for the same reason. Trachsel has done more than could have been expected, frankly.
The bullpen started off pretty great and is kind of tailing off a bit.
AND THEN YOU GET TO THE OFFENSE.
They suck. Let's not sugarbear sugarcoat this mess. This offense is offensive. Miguel Tejada is hitting .345 with no power. Mora's power is back a little bit, and his plate discipline is back, too. I'd just love to see his numbers without the 34,000 bunts he's laid down. Razor Ramon has been good since coming back.
And that covers the Orioles who have at least an .800 OPS. Every other guy in the lineup stinks. Millar and Roberts are walking but aren't hitting. It's not a terrible trade, but the walks are the only thing keeping them mediocre. Markakis, Huff, Patterson, Payton and Gibbons have been varying degrees of worthless.
Meanwhile, Jon Knott came up for a few games, went 3-for-4 with a homer and a walk, and then got promptly shuttled back to Norfolk so we could make room for Payton. The only thing -- the only thing -- I liked at all about the Payton signing was the fact that he could cover for Corey in center against lefties. Guess what? They're not using him for that. An aging singles hitter was not what this team needed every day in left field.
I'm confident that Markakis will adjust and turn it around. Very confident, in fact. The rest of them make it difficult to form a good argument on their behalf. I want to believe in Corey, but Corey's issues are very real and have always been there. I want to believe in Huff, but he hasn't been an impact hitter in years and I see no reason for him to do anything more than become league average.
I keep saying this every year, but it remains true. For years, people have been talking about what a great lineup the Orioles have, and if there's just some pitching, well golly, maybe they do something. The lineup is and has been horribly overrated. It's Miguel Tejada and a bunch of dudes. In 2006, they were tenth in the league in runs scord, the same as they were in 2005. In 2004, they were sixth in the league. That covers the Tejada years. Currently, the O's are 11th in the American League.
There's still plenty of baseball left to be played, and heaven knows there have been teams that recover from ugly starts (ones that nearly mirror ours) to make the playoffs. But that team had a GM that shook things up fast once it was clear that some guys weren't working. Three members of the starting lineup were shipped off in unceremonious fashion. And not that I think the same thing will work in our situation, but it addresses the area I'm most concerned with, which is management. We don't have that type of structure that sees a problem and fixes it, or even tries. It's, "This guy'll start hitting any time now," or, "Real good bullpen session today from Losing Pitcher Mulcahy," and before you know it, you're twenty games under and everything is just a test of patience.
We gotta get off the schneid in a hurry.