1. Coming into spring training, just about everyone knew the Orioles would have some position battles. One of the more intriguing ones in my mind was in right field, which has become a common theme. In fact, both corner outfield spots have been in flux since Nick Markakis left after the 2014 season. In 2015, Alejandro De Aza started in left while Travis Snider was the team’s right fielder on Opening Day. In 2016, it was Joey Rickard in left with Mark Trumbo in right field. Last season, Hyun-Soon Kim got the nod in left and Seth Smith took the field in front of the out of town scoreboard for the team’s first game.
Trumbo and Rickard are the only two players that remain on the team from that group of six, and neither are likely to get the nod in either corner outfield spot this season. Trey Mancini is the team’s presumed left fielder after emerging last year, but right is still a mystery.
Rickard is joined in a battle with Colby Rasmus, Anthony Santander, Craig Gentry, Austin Hays, and Alex Presley. Notice, none of those players are named Jarrod Dyson or Jon Jay. That’s because both of those guys signed with other teams for very modest contracts. Both of those guys are also better options than anything the Orioles are throwing out there. Much of this goes back to what I wrote about last week, when the Orioles decided to settle for another position battle at utility man, rather than bring back Ryan Flaherty.
The O’s front office has pretty much agreed they’ve got one last shot at making a run at the postseason with this current collection of players, yet they aren’t doing everything they can to make themselves the best potential team they can be. Instead, they are going halfway on things. They brought in Rasmus instead of Dyson or Jay in the same way that they brought in Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman instead of signing Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the great Ron Swanson:
2. While we are talking pitching (and continuing to scratch our heads as to why the O’s haven’t gone out and addressed their entire rotation), I continue to wonder who is going to fill out the staff as the team’s fifth starter. For some reason, I feel like Mike Wright Jr. is going to get the first crack at it, and I also feel like that is going to go very poorly.
The Orioles could easily, with where they sit payroll wise, go out and get Cobb or Lynn to add to the rotation. They would then have five starters (if you include Tillman, which is debatable), to at least begin with. Then they could rely on Wright Jr., Gabriel Ynoa, Miguel Castro or Nestor Cortes Jr. as a SIXTH option as a starter.
Spring training is already half over, and the O’s have been lucky enough to have not suffered an injury in the rotation. But that time will come. There’s no reason why the Orioles shouldn’t be adding another starting pitcher from the free agent crop, and there amazingly are still options out there.
3. There’s been a ton of speculation that one candidate to bolster the rotation could come from within in the form of Hunter Harvey. The 23-year-old has everyone all hot and bothered since returning to the mound last summer following Tommy John surgery.
I must preach patience, however, when it comes to Harvey. The Orioles and their fans can dream of a rotation that bolsters three homegrown talents in Harvey, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, but it’s something that can wait for at least a few months. It’s important to remember that Harvey hasn’t even thrown above Single-A Frederick yet. He’s logged fewer than 150 professional innings in four seasons.
There’s a decent chance Harvey is up in Baltimore by season’s end, but he’s sure to be on an innings limit as well. Patience should not only be preached, it should be practiced by the O’s.