The *New* Oriole Way: Good Enough is Good Enough

Buck Showalter holds a bat in Spring Training.
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

It’s a bit mind-blowing that not long ago the Orioles sat atop the AL East with one of the best records in baseball. Now they sit one game below .500 sporting a pedestrian (35-36) record, tied for last place.

If you stop and think about it, you have to wonder how they were ever 10 games over .500. Chris Davis struggled until he swung-and-missed himself onto the DL. If not for the Boston Red Sox Manny Machado might be near the Mendoza line. “Ace” Chris Tillman was on the shelf. All starting pitching stinks save for Dylan Bundy – and now he’s struggling – and the closer has been MIA nearly the entire season.

Manager Buck Showalter must have majored in “Smoke & Mirrors” and the duct tape he’s used to hold the team together could be a Best Seller on Amazon. But that duct tape is now dry-rotting after being exposed to the harsh elements of a very flawed roster.

The bullpen was once a team strength. Now most are frequent passengers on the Baltimore-to-Norfolk express. They are worn down and beaten by a starting pitching staff that regularly throws 100+ pitches by the fifth inning. Consequently, what was once a strength is now a liability.

The season appears lost and now the organization is forced to make a choice. Are they buyers or are they sellers as the MLB trade deadline approaches?

The optimists among you will sound the buyers’ trumpet. Find a starting pitcher. Get a reliever with a live arm like they did back in 2014 when Andrew Miller was acquired. Maybe even add a bat – a table setter who can help the club manufacture some runs when they confront challenging pitching. After all the team is just 5.0 games out of first place and 2.0 games out of the wild card race and we’re not even at the All-Star break.

But what do the Orioles buy with?

Who do they have on their roster or in the farm system that other teams might view as worth trading for?

Baseball America ranks the Orioles organizational strength at 27th among the league’s 30 teams. In 2016, they were also ranked 27th and in 2015, 28th. In other words, the Orioles have no bargaining power! They have no leverage!

And obviously, based on the above rankings, they have a pretty crappy farm system too.

GM Dan Duquette’s kingdom either drafts very poorly, lacks the ability to develop young players, or both. In what other business can you be as consistently as bad as the Orioles farm hands and not be held accountable?

Many who defend the Orioles will say, “Well at least it isn’t as bad as all those losing seasons” or, “You know since 2012 the Orioles have the best regular season record in the majors.”

Those are the consolations of losers – champions of participation trophies!

Sure, the O’s under Showalter can hang around for a while. They have the big bats that can knock the ball out of the park during the summer months in a sandbox of a stadium? They can flirt with playoff baseball for a bit, but they’ll ultimately fail in the postseason when the pitching is better and the ball doesn’t carry as far given the cooler, heavier air of October.

That’s the time pitching and small ball take over. The Orioles have neither.

So instead of buying the Orioles should be selling. They should be selling major league talent for prospects that someone else is developing. They should be willing to punt on 2017 with the hope that 2018 and beyond can get better.

And while they’re busy selling, they need to take a hard look at how they identify and groom young talent. The system is off – way off. The “Orioles Way” is lost. Instead of ponying up $161 million for Chris Davis, maybe they ought to invest in the best scouts and developmental personnel in the land. Then, maybe they would have recognized Trey Mancini’s talent and convinced Duquette and Emperor Peter to back off on the Davis contract, one that will be an organizational albatross for years.

Some will say that the Orioles can’t overreact to a bad streak like that which they are experiencing. But even without the bad streak, the team isn’t equipped to be successful in the postseason. They are like the Cincinnati Bengals of MLB.

And maybe that’s all the Angelos family needs to stay happy. Maybe they only need to be close enough to interest the fans and interest companies willing to spend advertising dollars. That cash cow called MASN keeps the family’s financial vessel afloat.

Just good enough to be playoff contenders, just might be good enough for Pete, John and Lou. But is that good enough for you? Should it be good enough for the players?

Five games out of first place is the least of the Orioles problems.

The real problems reside in the warehouse.

And it’s been that way for a long time.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

5 Cheers on “The *New* Oriole Way: Good Enough is Good Enough

  1. avatarTOM FROM RISING SUN ! on said:

    THE PROBLEM IS WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH ! WE NEVER WILL BE WE A LAST OR NEXT TO LAST FARM SYSTEM THAT IS VERY WEAK ON TALENT ! WHY WON’T ANGELOS TELL US HOW MUCH MONEY HE MAKES WITH THE MASN NETWORK ? YOU WOULD THINK WITH THE LEGAL GAMBIT THAT IS GOING ON WITH THE WASHINTON NATIONALS AND THE MLB WHAT MASN IS WORTH WOULD HAVE LEAKED OUT ! YOU NEED TO TRADE MANNY MACHADO NOW TO REBUILD THE FARM SYSTEM AND ALSO TRADE CHRIS DAVIS ! HE KILLS THREE TIMES MORE RALLIES THAN HE HITS HOMERUNS WITH UN –
    PRODUCTIVE AT BATS ! START DOING SOMETHING AND DO IT NOW BECAUSE I DON’T THINK THOSE EMPTY GREEN METAL SEATS WILL MAKE YOU MUCH MONEY AND CLEARLY THAT IS ALL THIS ORGANIZATION REALLY CARES ABOUT !

  2. avatarDiamond Dar on said:

    When will the Orioles start investing in starting pitchers who can throw 95mph or better with movement and stop drafting all these next Brian Matuz types who don’t have put away pitches.

  3. avatarCaptain Kirk, Abingdon on said:

    You just told it like it is bro! Apologists will unsuccessfully try and counter argue but there is to nothing to defend about this organization. The Orioles thankfully became relevant again earlier this decade but instead of building upon our appearances by adding what we need (because our farm system still sucks and has since the Syd Thrift days) we have sat stuck in idle while other organizations tear down and build back up. Idle… means not really being buyers except a little window dressing grabbing a player from a ‘Five Below’ and sell it to us fans as the player came from ‘Versace’. They panicked and overpaid for Davis and put money in Trumbo. I like both guys for various reasons but not their contracts. Bad investments and add Jimenez to the mix. This reminds of the late 90’s and early 2000’s when we sunk $ to make a playoff run in 94-97 signing Bonilla, Alomar, Palmeiro, Belle, and resigned Anderson… these contracts remained on the Orioles books for nearly a decade leading into the early 2000’s and none of these players were on the team. They used that as an excuse to not get FAs and resign our own players for a long time. Now what is the excuse? We can’t add high dollar FAs because we have the contracts of Machado, Jones, and Britton due? Give me a break… if you resign them all, wouldn’t we have essentially the same team? A team with little fruit to bear from the minor leagues to compliment these guys. Bills as in their contracts are coming due and it is time now to determine your ‘face of the team’ and the rest need to be traded for young talent. Viscous cycle though because we’re still not cultivating the young talent enough… yet maybe the draft picks lack the MLB make-up so they are deficient in talent. Folks… this viscious cycle calls for tossing a few perverbial ‘hand grenades in the room’ and blowing this up some.
    Keep Mancini, Bundy, and Schoop. But… those 3 are very attractive to other teams and have been for years.
    I think IMO Trumbo, Machado, and Jones are the other attractive pieces for clubs at the deadline. I want to keep Jones the most and this org has the greatest chance of resigning him (if they don’t wait until their usual final hour). Duquette needs to go… new scouting people are needed. Add to this a new philosophy… because ‘buy the bats and grow the arms’ hasn’t worked like they anticipated… Gausman is still TBD, Bundy just now is a full time pitcher, Harvey is still a year and a half away from coming up… Britton has been a bright point but can he get back to dominance? If so trade him quickly. NO… the philosophy needs to be ‘Buy what the team needs and cultivate/groom talent.’ That makes for a successful organization. That is what current top teams are doing… even the big spenders have better farm systems than us…why are we still acting on a shoestring budget? The answer to these seemingly year after year questions is still the brass at the top… Peter and his sons which is why Peter is on my Mt. Rushmore of hated Baltimore sports figures. (End of my rant!)

    • Derek ArnoldDerek Arnold on said:

      They had the 10th-highest opening day payroll this year. They certainly aren’t operating on a “shoestring budget” in that regard.

      HOWEVER, to your point about ownership – I have hard time blaming Angelos when the team has the 10th-highest payroll, and he gave Davis all that money. The problem is that it wasn’t DD signing Davis to that deal – it was Pete. Davis is one of “Pete’s guys” and Pete likes to pay *his* guys. That’s a problem – he still sticks his nose where it shouldn’t be. On top of that, the O’s ignore the international market, another huge problem that can be pointed directly at ownership’s reluctance to spend there. Finally, they have one of the – if not THE – smallest scouting departments in MLB. That’s on the Angelos family too. So I’m with you in some respects, for sure.

      • avatarCaptain Kirk, Abingdon on said:

        Derek,
        A little out of context. I am aware of their payroll but yet they still have a cash cow in MASN.
        Many of your counter points supports my comment about budget. What I meant by acting like they are on a shoestring budget is they have the funds to expand scouting and the funds to sign a top line pitcher. But they don’t have the ‘want to’ and why is that? Yes Peter has mettled in decisions and apparently he is unaware or doesn’t care how owners ruin sports franchises like (although a different sport but doesn’t matter) like Al Davis did with the Raiders, Paul Brown with the Browns, and Jerry Jones with the Cowboys…. (Cowboys could be turning the corner but jury still out…not a fan so I can care less). Point is Peter doesn’t operate like Steve Biscotti… hire the right people that you trust and empower them, not hinder them from making decisions.
        Hard to stay optimistic about the future unless they tear this thing down.

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