clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Orioles bench players have been terrible. Can it get any better?

New, 12 comments
Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

There is a reason why these guys are not in the starting lineup most days. Whether it's because of their struggles with the bat, or that they have issues in the field, something keeps them from being regular players, but the Orioles bench has been especially terrible in 2016.

This is based on the situation right now! Hyun-soo Kim looks to be the regular left fielder for the time being. Nolan Reimold should be the first choice in right field with Mark Trumbo DHing. And Ryan Flaherty starts at third base while J.J. Hardy recovers from injury.

Here is the current bench:

Caleb Joseph: .175/.235/.206, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 5 BB, 14 SO, -0.4 WAR

Joseph has been really bad. The season is more than a quarter over and he still doesn't have a single RBI. That doesn't seem possible given the fact that he and Matt Wieters basically shared catching duties 50/50 up until just recently.

Another issue for him has been the big time struggles of Ubaldo Jimenez. Joseph has served as Jimenez's "personal catcher" of sorts, but the right-handed starter has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball (2-6, 6.36 ERA, 66 ERA+, 1.873 FIP). Does he really merit having his own catcher?

Joey Rickard: .247/.307/.356, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 39 SO, -0.6 WAR

Rickard-mania has subsided in a big way. With the bat, the O's Rule 5 pick has been OK. He has provided a bit more power than most would expect from that wiry frame, but he doesn't get on base enough to continue on as the regular lead-off man. With the current preference of manager Buck Showalter looking to be Hyun-soo Kim in left field, Joey Baseball may move down the order.

His biggest problem is something that was talked up as a strong point in Spring Training: defense. Between all three outfield positions, Rickard has a combined UZR of -8.9. That is pretty remarkably terrible. His arm has a -2.6 rating while his range gets a -6.9. Ugh.

Paul Janish: .071/.188/.071, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO, -0.2 WAR

What can you really say? The moment J.J. Hardy returns from his foot injury, Janish will be out the door. The 33-year-old's defense is serviceable but he is basically an automatic out at the plate

Pedro Alvarez: .194/.294/.350, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 27 SO, -0.6 WAR

The former Pirate may be the biggest disappointment of the season. He came to Baltimore with the expectation of adding a plentiful number of DONGS to the O's already impressively powerful lineup. But he has not done that so far.

The batting average was always going to be low, but under .200? His walk-to-strikeout ratio has been a pleasant surprise, but has not made up for the low slugging percentage. And Alvarez is not a good fielder so if he isn't hitting, there is no reason for him to play

Any relief from the minors?

If we go based on the Norfolk Tides record (17-34) then it seems pretty clear that the team is struggling as a whole. There aren't too many guys pushing for spots at the big league level.

One exception may be catcher Audry Perez. The backstop is hitting .327 over 30 games. He is 27 years old and played three games with the St. Louis Cardinals a couple seasons back. The scouting report on him is that he is a decent hitter and an average fielder. Is he good enough to replace Joseph? That is a tough one. Showalter seems to have an affinity for Joseph and the catcher has become a fan favorite.

Xavier Avery looked to be on the original Opening Day roster. He was the last player re-assigned to the minor leagues prior to the beginning of the season. If Kim had accepted the demotion, Avery could be seeing some time in Baltimore. The former top prospect offers speed (9-for-10 stolen bases), an ability to get on base a little bit (.333 career minors OBP), and MLB experience. But the corner outfield positions are in a logjam right now.

Adding to that in the future could be Mike Yastrzemski, who is loving life early on in Virginia. Through 13 games, he is hitting .333 with two home runs and seven RBI as a Tide. He profiles as a fourth outfielder-type anyway, so he could work as a bench player. But a September call-up seems more likely than a mid-summer promotion. Since Rickard cannot be sent down this season and, for the moment, Kim is hitting (and has refused a demotion in the past) it seems as though Yaz will need to wait until the end of season to make his MLB debut.

Then there is the gaggle of veteran names you have heard a million times already: Henry Urrutia, Dariel Alvarez, L.J. Hoes and Michael Almanzar. Alvarez has been the best of the bunch as he is slashing .274/.301/.360 with just one home run. Those numbers don't exactly bust down the major league door. But the other three have been downright bad. Urrutia was demoted to double-A Bowie recently. Hoes is hitting .213 and Almanzar is not much better at .217.

And, of course, the "prospects". These are guys like Trey Mancini, Chance Sisco and Christian Walker. Sisco is doing well enough with the Baysox, slashing .306/.404/.373. He is still just 21 years old. Mancini was killing it with Bowie (.302/.413/.698, seven home runs) but has had some slight growing pains in Norfolk (.252/.331/.433, four home runs). And Walker has continued his nosedive in performance that has followed him each of the past three seasons. In 2016, his batting average is down to .235 and he has an OBP of just .295. Of those three, Mancini is the closest to being ready, but he doesn't fit on the roster apart from a DH.

Going forward

No major league bench is going to be perfect. But the current iteration of the Orioles reserves is a confusing one to have. Typically, you want those guys to have some specific tool that makes them useful. Rickard can hit lefties pretty well (.286 BA), but not necessarily better than Reimold or Kim. Alvarez has power, but hasn't showed it. Janish is a fine fielder, but not more reliable than Ryan Flaherty or Manny Machado. We know Joseph can do a job behind the plate, but his bat is so bad right now that it makes him tough to play.

Who knows what the answer is to the Baltimore bench quandry? Certainly not me. But it is a problem. Good teams don't have their reserves filled with players that are a drain on the rest of the roster. Teams must have substitutes to fill in for the starters in situations where they struggle. Showalter can't rely on the same nine or 10 guys for 162 games. If somehow they manage to get to the playoffs, they may not go far. The Maryland summers are hot and muggy and awful, really. Tired legs will lead to poor play.