There has been a lot of discussion this off-season about the 2010 roles of Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie. Both showed a lot of promise in 2009 and both, I think, deserve a shot to prove themselves on a regular basis at the big league level. Unfortunately there are but three outfield positions and Nick Markakis and Adam Jones already have two of them. So what to do with Reimold and Pie?
According to Steve Melewski, the decision has been made that Nolan Reimold is the everyday left fielder and Felix Pie will have to find another way to get at bats. From his Dave Trembley:
"Our outfield is Reimold, Jones and Markakis and Pie gives us some flexibility being able to play center and left. Reimold could DH some vs. left-handed pitching. I don't see it as a competitive thing coming into spring training. Both guys (Reimold and Pie) are on the club, my job is to get them at bats and keep them fresh.
"We were impressed with Pie last year. But there is not a competition for the left field spot. Pie will find his way into the lineup quite a bit."
So there it is. Trembley has spoken. Before I go into my opinion on the entire thing, let me say that this is a good problem to have. Gone are the days of Brandon Fahey roaming left field and Jay Payton grousing in the dugout while sporting an OPS+ of 72. It's tough seeing that Pie won't get out there as much as I think he should be, but I dig that the reason is because there is someone else who deserves it as much as he does. If only we had that problem in the infield.
I like Nolan Reimold. I like him a lot. I fell in love with his patient batting eye and his overall approach at the plate. He's an decent left fielder and he's got power, something the Orioles are lacking. He deserves an everyday job, no doubt.
I like Felix Pie. He's the A word. If he can duplicate what he did in the second part of 2009 over an entire season at the plate he's more valuable than Nolan Reimold. I don't think he has the power of Reimold, but he does have power potential. Defensively, however, there is no comparison. I say without a doubt that Felix Pie is the best defensive outfielder on this team. That's based both on the statistics and on what I see with my eyes. If you don't believe me, you can 1) check out FanGraphs and 2) check out Pie's highlights on mlb.com.
I've said more than once that I think the best configuration for this team is for Pie to be in the outfield and Reimold to be the DH. I still believe it, but I know it's not as easy as it sounds. For one thing, Nolan Reimold is 26 years old and just finished his rookie year. That seems a little early to take him out of the field defensively. For another, he's not a liability in left field, he's just not as good as Pie. If you're into the WAR you should take note that in 104 games (411 PA) in 2009, Reimold's WAR was 1.0. Pie got into 101 games but only had 281 PA and his WAR was 1.4, and that's with him looking like a little lost kid at the plate for the first month. It's simply a shame to let that type of talent rot on the bench.
But maybe I'm being too cynical. After all, Diamond Dave did say that both guys are on the team and it's his job to get them both at bats. Maybe Pie won't rot on the bench, maybe Trembley really will find a way to get him out there. History doesn't seem to predict that'll happen, though, unless one of Reimold, Luke Scott, Jones, or Markakis goes down with injury and that's certainly not what I want.
I believe Pie is worthy of being a starting outfielder. I think that you have to see what he can do out there. Unfortunately you also have to see what Reimold can do. I don't think either of them is a "fourth" outfielder so that essentially leaves five players for four positions. It's almost a given that Markakis will play almost every day and if Jones can stay healthy he'll be out there almost every day as well. If the Orioles want to give Scott the bulk of the ABs at DH and declare Reimold the everyday LF, that leaves Pie as the odd man out. And it's a crying shame. It will especially be a crying shame if Garrett Atkins or Joe Crede or Miguel Tejada or Ty Wigginton get everyday playing time (I know, Pie doesn't play infield, I'm just saying).
I'm going to try to keep an open mind about Dave Trembley's roster management. Hey, maybe he'll figure it out.
(as an aside, it really is too bad I didn't save today's Bird Droppings pic for this post, isn't it?)