Will these guys be Orioles by the All Star break?
The Baltimore Orioles currently lead the AL in wins (tied for second in all of MLB and have the second best winning percentage, trailing only the Cubs. Things are going well for the club right now in many ways. The bullpen continues to be one of the best in baseball, the starters are holding their own, the defense has been very good (with the exception of the corner OF spots) and they are scoring runs at a solid level. As we know, this team isn’t without its flaws and there will need to be a decision made on a few of these guys soon. Let’s take a look at some players on the team who could be on the bubble in the coming weeks.
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The conventional wisdom is that he will start to hit righties and all will be well with him. After all, his worst OPS vs. righties since 2012 is 770. You figure that he will be fine, hit them at a solid enough level for a platoon and give you a lot of power at the bottom of the lineup. But what if he doesn’t? Currently, his OPS vs. righties is 678. He has 2 homers, 6 doubles and has walked 13 times. The walks are nice but the rest isn’t going to cut it. He can’t help you vs. lefties, he’s slow and his defense isn’t good. In other words, if he isn’t hitting righties, especially with power, he is worthless to the team. He has 6 hits this month. SIX! The question is what would you replace him with? Well, Christian Walker and Trey Mancini are currently struggling a bit in AAA. Still, they could potentially be options for you. Also, this team does need to make a move for a legit corner OFer IMO. That is also something that could happen, as a way to replace him. I don’t think Alvarez should be cut tomorrow but I am only willing to give another few weeks before I start to think he needs to be DFA.
Let’s face it; Matusz shouldn’t be here to begin with, at least not at his current salary. I thought he should have been non-tendered entering last year as well. Yes, he had a decent year last year. The Ks were up, his ERA was under 3 and generally speaking, he did a good job. He wasn’t lights out and his numbers vs. righties are generally subpar. This year, he looks terrible. According to what Jim Palmer recently said, Matusz said his conditioning isn’t there yet (coming back from the injury) and his stuff is also not there. On top of all of that, his confidence is shaken. He has no command or control right now. Essentially, he is gasoline being thrown on a fire. The good news is, that we are only talking about 6 innings. Any pitcher can and will have small stretches where they look really bad or really good. The problem is, we are almost at Memorial Day and how much longer do you continue to have a guy out there that you can’t rely on? Like Alvarez, you should give him some more time because there is a track record there but also like Alvarez, you can’t continue to throw him out there for an extended period of time and have him continue to hurt the team. There are always relievers available at the deadline, so the Orioles should be able to replace him.
All in all, Wright has come up here and been good enough. The numbers aren’t great but in 7 starts, he has gone at least 5 innings in all of them and 6 or more in 4 of them, including a 7-inning performance a few starts ago. He has given up 3 ER or less in 4 of the starts. So, generally speaking, he has kept the team in games and eaten up some innings. His FIP is 4.17, which is much lower than the 4.97 ERA he has. Surprisingly, his walk rate isn’t too bad. It is 3.02. The K rate is well under league average and he isn’t missing bats. Still, he is throwing strikes at an improved rate, getting first pitch strikes at a league average rate and he has seen his GB/FB ratio improve a good amount from last year. So, there is some optimism in his game. Still, he struggles with his emotions and his command is very inconsistent, especially with his secondary pitches. It sounds like Gallardo could be back within a month or so and Wright is one of the guys who will be on alert.
I talked about some of positives and negatives about Jimenez’s stats here, so I will let that post speak for itself. The bottom line on Jimenez is simple. If he isn’t going to give up a bunch of free base runners, he will be fine. He will eat innings, pitch to a sub 4ish ERA and give the team what they need. However, if he is going to walk 3-4 guys a game, hit a batter or 2 and perhaps throw the occasional wild pitch, he is going to get lit up. I don’t think he is close to DFA status but if this keeps up for another 4-6 weeks and guys like Wilson and Wright are doing well and Gallardo is back, there may be some serious thinking about Ubaldo Jimenez being on the chopping block. It is possible that Baltimore could make a trade for another bad contract (Ubaldo for Markakis? Atlanta saves money) but if he keeps this up, can you really have him in the rotation by the AS break?
When he has been in there, he has performed. He is hitting .379, getting on base at a 45% clip, shows good patience and hasn’t been the dumpster fire in the OF that the team made it seem during ST. Still, he isn’t showing any power and despite him hitting well, Showalter isn’t playing him (he has 3 starts this month). I guess there is some spot for him but at the end of the day, an OF upgrade is needed and if/when they do that, my guess is he is on the bubble more so than Rickard or Reimold because its obvious that Showalter still doesn’t trust him.
The Orioles needs are obvious. A reliable lefty reliever (personally, I don’t care what arm a guy throws with but Buck and the Orioles, as well as the rest of MLB do care), a solid all around corner OFer and a legit top of the rotation starter. The Orioles will not be able to get the starter IMO. There are too many teams that will need that guy and if one becomes available, which isn’t likely right now, the Orioles have little to no shot to get that guy.
So, look for them to add an OFer (Kole Calhoun is my early favorite) and a lefty reliever if Matusz continues to struggle. If they make some of these moves, it’s likely that a few of the above players will not be on the team once that happens.
Rob has interviewed guests from outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, FOX Sports, Baseball Prospectus, Athlon, Sporting News, MLB Network, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Info Solutions, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Sports on Earth, Grantland, NFL Network, FanGraphs, Football Outsiders, ProFootballFocus, etc. etc. The Baltimore native lives in Perry Hall with his Wife Lindsay, and two young sons. He has appeared as a guest on 105.7 The Fan, Q1370, and WNST 1570.
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