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 got a decent peek at what the bottom of their rotation could look like this past Saturday when David Hess started the first game of a doubleheader. The 24-year-old coughed up a three-run homer in the first inning, but was able to battle back and post five scoreless frames after that. He earned a win in his first big-league start. Hess was promptly sent back down to Norfolk after the game, but remains a candidate for the rotation going forward.
The other candidate is Miguel Castro, who has pitched entirely out of the bullpen. He was slated to start yesterday’s game prior to Tuesday’s rainout. Castro was pushed to the bullpen this spring after competing for a rotation spot in Sarasota.
Regardless of who takes over in the rotation, one thing is clear – they should be taking it over for a while. Chris Tillman has landed on the disabled list with one of those injuries that you don’t really believe is an injury. It’s a case of “underperformance” mixed with a lower back strain.
Much has been written about Tillman this past week that doesn’t need to be rehashed. He has been a great contributor to the Orioles for many years, but that time has got to be over. His performance, or lack of, is simply not good enough to justify keeping him on the team any longer.
2. As the Orioles continue to flounder in the basement of the AL East, even a mile away from Wild Card contention, I’m reminded of how close we now are to Memorial Day. That’s when the organization, and specifically executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, stated they would re-evaluate where they are as a team.
Everyone else has known for a while now that they are going nowhere fast in 2018.
The time to make massive changes is here. In fact, some would say it’s beyond that time. Memorial Day is just over a week away, and those changes could (should) come soon after that.
I’m not saying the Orioles will be making massive trades by June 1, but I would want them to at least declare some type of plan. That’s been my biggest issue all along. The Orioles have zero direction or plan for the future, at least not one they’ve stated publicly. They don’t need to reveal all of their cards, but they need to give fans some hope for the future. They need to determine who is making decisions and what direction the franchise is headed.
If Duquette isn’t coming back next season, they need to make that known. If Buck Showalter isn’t returning as manager, they also need to make that known.
All of this needs to happen right around Memorial Day, or an already restless fanbase will be driven mad.
3. I heard an awful lot of people whining about Tuesday night’s postponement, and while I have some sympathy for fans who waited three hours in the rain only to be told there would be no game, the complaints have also gone too far. So many people are blaming the Orioles for the situation, as if they control the weather.
Sure, the team probably knew the chances of getting the game in were small, but they still had to try. There are a lot of moving parts involved in a baseball season, especially with an interleague game. I don’t blame the O’s for trying to get the game in. I understand there were fans who had to pay for parking and concessions and things of that nature without getting to see a game. And I do believe fans should somehow be reimbursed if they paid to park on the stadium lot.
But what no one else wants to mention is that fans have basically the same information in terms of a weather forecast that everyone else does. If they didn’t think a game was going to be played, they didn’t have to trek to the stadium to wait around. If you had a ticket to Tuesday’s game and didn’t go down because of the weather, you still have a valid ticket for the makeup game. There’s always a chance of a delay or postponement when you go to a baseball game. These things aren’t controlled by one team or even the league.
Blaming those organizations, instead of mother nature, just seems fruitless.
4. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience listening to a radio broadcast of a game in Detroit that was called by regular O’s play-by-play voice Joe Angel, with color commentary done by Brian Roberts. Being that yesterday’s game was also an afternoon affair, I had another opportunity to listen to the game on radio, rather than my usual habit of watching on television. It also gave me another chance to hear a former Oriole in the booth.
Orioles Hall of Famer Gregg Olson was alongside Angel for the game, and like Roberts, was a joy to listen to. Olson provided the right amount of “homerism” for a local broadcast while also being fair and critical when necessary. He also did a nice job of providing context on pitch selection and situational pitching, as you’d expect from a former big league arm.
Like Roberts, Olson was also a bit unpolished as a traditional “broadcaster,” but that’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who isn’t a…traditional broadcaster. He came off as an informed ex-player that knew where the focus of the game should go with each inning.
I really enjoy the option to listen to radio broadcasts during weekday games when I can’t be in front of a TV. The Orioles are doing a good job of bringing back former players like Olson, Roberts, and Ben McDonald to mix things up and give the broadcast some different flavor.