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Monday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles are in last place

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Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

After a weekend sweep at the hands of the Twins, the Orioles now find themselves in last place in the American League East. They are 6.5 games back of the leading Rays and 1.5 games behind the fourth place Red Sox. I think if we are all honest with ourselves, we all knew that there was little chance of the 2019 season ending up any other way.

If you were busy with Easter or Passover family plans and didn’t see the finale, make sure to take a look at Drew Bonifant’s recap of the 4-3 loss on Sunday to see how the sweep closed out. The good news, such as it is, is that the Orioles did not allow a home run in the Sunday loss. That leaves them with 57 home runs allowed in 23 games - a pace of about 2.48 home runs per game, or 401 home runs over a full season. That is far, far above the record of 258 home runs allowed by the 2016 Cincinnati Reds.

At 8-15, the Orioles record is not great. Their .348 winning percentage over a whole season would net them 56 wins. That’s still nine wins better than last season, so it’s progress, right? The 2018 Orioles were 6-17 through 23 games, and they had an 8-27 record before they picked up their ninth win. Things remain better so far, and hopefully they will stay that way.

There’s a reasonable chance that we haven’t seen the best that the 2019 Orioles have to offer, as well. I’m not saying that they will suddenly be good, but they might trend more towards mediocre if there are players who are able to make real and meaningful improvements under the Mike Elias analytics regime.

Things could also improve if Elias is able to start calling up some better players than the ones who have been playing so far. That’s particularly true if any of the high minors pitchers in either the rotation or bullpen are capable of better than what we’ve seen up to this point. Perhaps we’ll get a better idea of what those minor league pitchers might be capable of based on how they perform as May and June roll along.

In the meantime, there’s Dan Straily, and there’s Miguel Castro, and a whole lot of other guys who sport ERAs of 4.00 or higher. The Orioles have had 22 men pitch for them already this season and exactly four of them have an ERA below 4 right now.

As a broadcaster, former Oriole Mike Bordick likes to talk about how the team needs “consistency,” and the problem the O’s have is that they are quite consistent. It’s just consistently bad at pitching. Many of them have also been bad at hitting to date. There’s also not a clear idea of when better options at center field, shortstop, and third base will develop or present themselves.

Mike Mussina was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame 90 days ago. The Orioles have not yet announced any plans to retire his jersey or erect his statue at Camden Yards.

Around the blogO’sphere

Orioles lose patience with pitcher Mike Wright, designate him for assignment (Baltimore Baseball)
Longtime readers of this site surely know that Mike Wright was not my favorite Oriole, but I always would have rather he pull it all together. This weekend, it seems the O’s finally decided that he never will.

Smith shines before early exit vs. Twins (Orioles.com)
In case you were running out of things to excite you about the current Orioles, there’s the fact that one of the few good-hitting players so far, Dwight Smith Jr., had to come out of Sunday’s game with right quad tightness.

Hyde on Wright, Ynoa, Karns, and more (School of Roch)
The directness with which Hyde addressed what led to Wright being designated for assignment is not something I remember seeing in these parts in recent years.

Gabriel Ynoa on rejoining the Orioles (Steve Melewski)
He’s back! I hope he pitches well enough to stick around.

Sunday Notes: Brandon Hyde’s “What would Maddon do?” (Fangraphs)
Another Orioles-related item in the usual Fangraphs Sunday column involves Dan Straily talking about his changeup.

After three ejections in less than week, Orioles might want to keep their heads down (Baltimore Sun)
Somebody must care about this issue since Peter Schmuck was motivated to unleash this take upon the world. I am not one of those people.

Birthdays and anniversaries

There are a few former Orioles with birthdays today. They are: 1997-98 pitcher Jimmy Key, 1987-89 pitcher Dave Schmidt, and 1963-65 catcher John Orsino.

It’s also the birthday of Baltimore-born Moose Haas, who played for the Brewers and Athletics in an MLB career that went from 1976-87. Haas holds the distinction of being the only MLB player from my high school.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your birthday buddies for today include: philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724), nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904), actor Jack Nicholson (1937), Baltimore’s own movie man John Waters (1946), and actress Amber Heard (1986).

On this day in history...

In 1864, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1864. Among its provisions, the phrase “In God We Trust” was added to US currency for the first time.

In 1889, Oklahoma held its first land rush, which drew thousands of settlers to claim the newly-opened territory. The state university’s athletic teams, the Sooners, are to this day named after those lawbreakers who illegally entered and claimed territory before the noon opening.

In 1915, during World War I, the Second Battle of Ypres began. With it, the German forces began to use poison gas on their enemies.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on April 22 - or at least, until something happens later when the Orioles play the White Sox. Have a safe Monday. Go O’s!