This is a weekly column that dives into some random thoughts about the Orioles/MLB. I used to do eight as a nod to Cal Ripken Jr. As of last year, I cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver/Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.
1. The Orioles finally went and did it this week. They benched Chris Davis, and there’s no real clear-cut path to playing time for the first baseman. Davis’ benching comes at a time where it doesn’t really matter. It’s more of a message being sent by Buck Showalter than anything. Davis will likely find his way back to the plate at some point in the coming days.
Showalter says Chris has been working hard since his benching on figuring out what is going wrong. Aside from just pointing to “everything” there must be a lot there.
A quick reality check for those clamoring for Davis to either be cut or traded – neither of those things is happening. He’s making too much money to be cut, and no team would want to take on that contract in a trade. The Orioles are simply stuck with him. He’s their first baseman going forward, even if he doesn’t play all that much.
I don’t anticipate him getting the bulk of the playing time even when he does make a return to the lineup. What’s important to realize in all of this is that the Orioles have absolutely no problem with just sticking Davis on the bench and playing with 24 men, even if they have to do that for the rest of this lost season.
I mean, after all, they did start the season with three Rule 5 players on the roster, so it’s almost like they’ve gained a few spots since then.
2. Over the next few weeks, you’re going to hear a TON of rumors surrounding Manny Machado. The hug watch is officially on for perhaps the most talented player to ever come out of the Orioles organization. There are going to be many rumors about a bunch of teams that are interested, but when it comes down to it, there are probably only three to four suitors for Machado.
The rumor mill within the AL East is churning because both the Red Sox and Yankees will be linked. That’s mostly media-driven if you ask me. I don’t think there’s a chance in this lifetime that Peter Angelos sends Machado to a team within the division. I think a National League team is much more likely, and there are plenty of rumors on that side as well.
The latest involves the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that would be highly-motivated to acquire Machado. They did something similar in getting J.D. Martinez last season from the Tigers as a rental. The D-backs are leading the NL West, but doing all they can to fight off the Dodgers. Arizona has also gotten little production out of the shortstop position this season. The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves are also sure to be teams brought up over the next few weeks as potential suitors.
As a fan, it’s also super important to remember that you WILL be disappointed by the return for Machado. They are not going out and pulling off a deal like the Yankees did with Aroldis Chapman a few years ago to net Gleyber Torres. Something like that isn’t in the cards. It’s not in the cards for any player the Orioles are about to trade.
These players are rentals, and the return won’t be close to what you expect.
3. Trades are certainly going to be part of the near future for the Orioles, but the question remains – who is making those trades? Reports surfaced last week that the O’s interviewed former Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. It could be the first indication that the Orioles are actually planning for the future, but it’s also made a bit more awkward by the fact that he’s interviewing for a position that is currently occupied by Dan Duquette.
Look, no one expects Duquette to be back next season. I don’t even think Duquette expects it deep down. But is he going to be the one making the calls on trades in the coming weeks? All signs would point to yes. What’s more, how are the Orioles going to set themselves up going forward with a new regime in place, if that’s something they want?
What needs to be understood is that any new GM that enters the picture will likely still have to answer to Brady Anderson, or at least have him in the fold. Anderson basically has a job for as long as he wants one with the Orioles, so long as the Angelos family is in charge.
The Orioles will have a tough time convincing someone, much less someone with experience in the industry, to take that kind of role.
4. We’re nearly halfway into the 2018 season, and the Orioles aren’t just seeing fewer wins this year, they are also seeing fewer fans at the park. Attendance is way down for the worst team in baseball, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Experts claim the biggest issue is that many fans from counties that surround the city aren’t coming in for games. They aren’t spending money before or after games like they have in the past.
While much of this can be attributed to safety concerns that have grown over the last few years, a larger part of it has to do with the fact that going to a baseball game is much more involved than it used to be. The almighty entertainment dollar is being spent in other places these days, and people can just as easily watch the games at home. MASN’s ratings haven’t taken a hit over the last few years. And while the Orioles have made an effort to get more fans out this season by promoting more events, theme nights and promotions, I don’t think they really care how many butts are in the seats.
That’s especially true when it comes to THIS team and as bad as the product has fallen off. The O’s would like there to be more people there, but they are still making their money through their TV deal.