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. This year, I’ll be cutting it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver–Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.
1. The days leading up to Monday’s trade deadline are going to be interesting, but I also expect them to be fairly quiet for the Orioles.
Based on all of the back and forth we’ve heard out of the front office over the last few weeks, I’d think the O’s are pretty comfortable standing pat at this point. That’s not to say they won’t make a trade before the deadline.
I still think there’s a very good chance they trade Zach Britton. What complicates matters is the way the closer has been pitching of late. He appears to be healthy, but something seems off.
The Orioles are walking the very thin line that is “buyer” and “seller” at the same time. They think they are still in it this season (they aren’t) while they also know they have multiple pieces of value that they could trade away (they do).
It’s a very unique trade deadline for this organization, and as I’ve written many times over the last few weeks, they need to be careful with it. Making the wrong move, or failing to make the right move, could set the franchise back multiple years.
2. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding this year’s trade deadline isn’t the future of certain players on the roster. In my mind, it’s the future of those off the field, mainly Dan Duquette.
Over the last few weeks, I thought we may get some answers about what the future holds for Duquette. Instead, I feel more confused than ever. Beyond next season, no one really knows what is in store for either Duquette or manager Buck Showalter. That’s something that is disconcerting to those who want something to believe in for the future of this team.
If Duquette had actually been given authority to be a “seller” this trade deadline and completed that task (and yes, I suppose there is still time), it would say a lot about the trust ownership places in him to build for the future.
There will also be an opportunity for Duquette to make those types of moves this winter, but there doesn’t appear to be a ton of talk about his future beyond 2018.
All of that should concern you, Birdland.
3. There is much happier news that isn’t trade related when it comes to the Orioles.
The All-Star Game hasn’t slowed down Jonathan Schoop one bit. The O’s second baseman was scorching hot in the first half, and has maybe even turned it up a notch thus far in the second half. After hitting his 22nd home run of the season yesterday, Schoop is just three shy of his career high set last year. He’s also now hitting .303/.349/.550 on the season, putting together one of the better offensive years for an Orioles second baseman ever.
Schoop is at least locked up for two more seasons after this, and there’s every reason to believe the Orioles should be attempting to sign to a long-term deal. If they aren’t going to get a deal done for Schoop’s good friend Manny Machado, they should be working on the other side of the infield.
Schoop is going to cost a lot more than he would’ve if the O’s had approached him at the start of the season, but it’s still going to be very doable for the Birds.
4. As you sit back this weekend and watch Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and former Oriole Tim Raines get inducted into the Hall of Fame, remember that there should be another Bird in Cooperstown already. How Mike Mussina has yet to get the call is beyond me. “Moose” received nearly 52% of the vote in his 4th year of eligibility, and needs to bump that number to 75% in order to be enshrined. Mussina’s time will come, but I’m just puzzled as to why it hasn’t already.
There is more youth among the voters nowadays, and more who are inclined to look beyond the raw numbers. Mussina doesn’t have 300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts. He got a bit unlucky when he left the O’s to join the Yankees, spending his entire tenure in New York in between World Series championship teams.
Mussina will go into the Hall one day soon, and unlike many Orioles fans, I hope he goes in with a Baltimore cap.