• Apr

    Déjà vu all over again for O's

    Haven’t we seen this before?

    The Orioles, losers of seven straight, with pitiful offensive displays, and the worst 3-4-5 hitters in the league with the innate ability to suck the soul and enthusiasm of an entire fan base?

    Oh yeah, it’s called the 13 previous seasons.

    After two and a half months of great baseball and a 6-1 start, Buck Showalter probably had even the most pessimistic Orioles fan believing. Office workers at the water coolers were talking O’s again and this time it wasn’t to lament their poor performance. National talk shows were all abuzz talking about the new-look Orioles and how they might even be able to compete this year.

    Then apparently the Orioles collectively took a deep breath and went, “Wait a minute, we’re the Orioles, we have to find a way to crush our fans’ hearts and souls because this is who we are and what we do.”

    Besides the late-inning meltdown by the bullpen in the heartbreaking Yankees loss last Thursday, the blame can sit squarely on the offense again. Not only have none of Andy MacPhail’s offseason acquisitions hit yet, but Nick Markakis (.654 OPS), Matt Wieters (.612), Adam Jones (.542) and Luke Scott (.672) have all hit poorly. Jones has been so bad on sliders that the MASN folks probably have a slow-mo video of him flailing away at another slider away already queued up and ready to go during every one of his at bats.

    Speaking of the trio of power hitters that were supposed to ensure the Orioles offense didn’t go into collective slumps like this, they have either been bad or pitiful. Mark Reynolds has been the best by putting up a .721 OPS, but he’s hit just one home run. Vladimir Guerrero has actually become a caricature of himself by basically swinging at just about every pitch. In fact, he’s swinging at 69% of the pitches he’s seen which is significantly over his 56% career average and 45% MLB average. Not surprisingly he has not walked this year, but amazingly he hasn’t even run a count to three balls. His two extra base hits and .586 OPS is Garrett Atkins-like.

    Now I would be remiss if I didn’t say that that Derrek Lee’s defense at first base has been superb. It’s been Gold Glove quality and honestly, it better be because he’s hitting like Atkins as well. Sure, Lee missed a lot of spring training with the wrist injury, but let’s face it, he’s been an absolute bust so far through the first two weeks of the season. He’s slugging an Izturis-esque .288 with just two extra base hits and amazingly has just two RBIs while batting third. How much of a rally killer are you when you’ve only driven in two runs while batting third 14 games into the season?

    In fact, the three “power hitters” brought in to provide power to this offense have combined to hit three home runs in 169 plate appearances. Thanks for making a good first impression, guys.

    The Orioles fan in me is disappointed and angry, but the baseball observer in me tells me that they are not this bad and things can only get better. After all, they all have track records, right? But then again, contending teams (or even non-contenders) were not beating down the door for Guerrero’s and Lee’s services this offseason and Reynolds was available for two middle relievers.

    Nope, let’s get Mr. Negative out of our heads and assume these are just bad starts. After all, the baseball gods must have some mercy in them, right?

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.