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’ve be cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver–Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.
1. The Orioles have added to their rotation over the last week, signing Andrew Cashner to a two-year deal and bringing back Chris Tillman on a one-year contract. These two pacts, considering the money involved, are completely fine in a vacuum. Unfortunately, the O’s are relying on them to be considerable contributors to the rotation. Cashner is a viable 4th or 5th starting option and Tillman is the type you turn to as a 5th or even 6th starter, especially when you consider his injury history.
Entering the offseason, the Orioles had Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy in hand for the rotation, and many believed they needed to add three more starters. I was always of the mindset that they needed at least four more. Injuries and poor performance are to be expected during the course of a season.
Instead, the O’s are moving forward with Cashner and Tillman as their additions. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported this week that the Birds checked in on the likes of Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and even former Oriole Jake Arrieta, but that there isn’t a “financial match” and so they have moved along.
I’m not exactly sure where they are moving along to, but it sounds like the team’s fifth starter isn’t going to be Cashner or Tillman, but rather someone from in-house. Cashner and Tillman are going to be the third and fourth starters. That’s not good news.
2. The Orioles also made a pair of minor moves this week in the outfield. They signed Alex Presley, formerly of the Detroit Tigers, before coming to terms with Colby Rasmus in a minor-league deal yesterday. I call these “minor” moves because they don’t really “address” the issue of a lack of a left-handed hitter for the O’s. These guys are platoon players at best.
Aside from the rotation, the competition for playing time in the outfield is likely the thing to pay closest attention to this spring. Presley and Rasmus will be thrust into the mix along with Austin Hays, Joey Rickard, Craig Gentry and Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander. I don’t think anyone really knows how the playing time will shake out, similarly to the past few seasons.
If someone can grab the bull by the horns in the way that Trey Mancini did last year, it’d be a real plus.
3. The “meh”-ness of the signings of Presley and Rasmus this week were compounded by the fact that the O’s did not land fellow left-handed outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who ended up in Arizona. What made matters worse in my mind, is that the Diamondbacks landed Dyson for a very reasonable two-year, $7.5-million deal. Dyson is the type of player that provides something different. He’s not an everyday player by any stretch, but he’s speedy and plays excellent defense. He’s the type of player that could’ve been used to spell Adam Jones in center while helping in the corners as well. The Orioles also don’t have any stolen base threats, and Dyson certainly could’ve been one.
It’s a shame that the Birds don’t seem to have any diversity in their lineup. They are all big sluggers who want to hit the ball over the wall.
That’s fine and dandy when it’s going well, but when there’s a dry spell, things get bleak – as we’ve seen far too often.
4. Major League Baseball announced a new initiative for speeding up the pace of play earlier this week, and all I could do was yawn. Perhaps the threats of a pitch clock from Commissioner Rob Manfred were just bluster, or perhaps he is saving them for down the road.
Limiting visits to the mound to six per nine innings, however, isn’t going to have much impact on the time of games. Many catchers have already come out and said they won’t pay any attention to it. This will simply lead to more confrontation between players and umpires, and will actually LENGTHEN the game.
Umpires will also have discretion to allow more visits. Just like they have discretion to allow replays on certain plays when the time is right. None of this has very much consequence or penalty.
Having seen my fair share of games involving the Red Sox and Yankees, I don’t think the average time of an AL East game is going to dip back under the three-hour mark.