One of those things that baseball fans are fond of saying, ever since a late-1990s shoe commercial, is that chicks dig the long ball. That's the truth, but not the whole truth, because the simple fact is this: Just about everybody digs the long ball. There is no success more complete for a batter, and no failure more complete for a pitcher, than when someone hits a colossal home run.
Mark Trumbo, newly minted Oriole after a trade that sent Steve Clevenger to Seattle, doesn't look like the most exciting of acquisitions. After all, the guy has a career on-base percentage of .300. Do you know who else had a career on-base percentage of .300? That would be another Mark from the annals of Orioles history: legendary light-hitting shortstop Mark Belanger.
As a general rule, you don't want to be having your offensive prowess compared to Belanger. And for a baseball team, you don't want the player for whom you just traded, who's about to make a $9 million salary next season, to have that comparison made about him. That's a bad look!
It's not all bad news, though. In fact, there is one big piece of good news for everyone who digs the long ball. Trumbo's one real baseball skill is hitting that ball a long way, and now he's coming to Baltimore. Feast your eyes on this:
That's not the only time he did something like that. There are no shortage of those monster shots throughout his career. He's a strong dude. Yeah, he strikes out a lot - a peak of 184 strikeouts in 2013, his best season. He doesn't really walk either. But man, can he hit the baseball a long way. When he connects, he connects. It's a thing of beauty.
Orioles fans are no strangers to this kind of home run. We have had the good fortune in recent years to enjoy the breakout of Chris Davis into one of the great sluggers of the current era of baseball. Trumbo has hit 30+ home runs twice at the big league level. He did so twice in the minors as well.
Trumbo is no Davis, of course. Davis has hit more home runs at his peak and hasn't been reluctant to take a walk. Even when Trumbo was crushing minor league levels, he still didn't walk much. That's why Davis is about to get paid, either by the Orioles or someone else, and why Trumbo just got salary dumped for a third catcher who has less than a full season of plate appearances at the MLB level even though he's 29.
That doesn't mean Trumbo can't be useful to the Orioles. It's true that the chances that Trumbo will turn into the next Davis - or another Davis - aren't great. Trumbo, like Davis, will be 30 at the start of next season, so his development as a player is probably done. He is what he is. If the Orioles don't end up re-signing Davis and Trumbo is their first baseman next year, that would be a disappointing outcome and the team would certainly be worse off for it.
But, if you believe the Orioles and Orioles beat writers, Trumbo's acquisition doesn't mean they're closing the door on Davis. Nor should fans accept the explanation if they did. They ought to be able to afford both, although if they do get both, they probably won't also get any starting pitcher. Trumbo, who has played about 2,000 innings in the outfield in his career, could get kicked to left field.
Trumbo could be the player the Orioles were searching for all through 2015 - that is, any corner outfielder capable of batting better than the .210/.287/.353 number that O's left fielders batted this year. Is that worth $9 million? If he shows up here and hits 25-30 home runs, surely. If he doesn't, it'll be another frustrating trade, although at least this time Dan Duquette didn't give up a young starting pitching prospect in the process. It's a risk, but you can't gain anything in baseball without taking a risk.
And even if it doesn't work out, Trumbo should at the very least give us some glorious dingers. Pitchers are going to make mistakes sometimes, and when they do, Trumbo will be there waiting for them. You could almost say he's been an Oriole in spirit for his whole career. Now he's actually here. He's not perfect, but he can definitely hit a baseball a long way. Everybody digs the long ball - as long as it's the Orioles who are hitting them.