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. It’s been a very strange and newsworthy week in Birdland. Much of what occurred over the past week since I last wrote in this space would be filed under what I call “dumb baseball.” It’s something I wrote about extensively over at MASNSports.com on Monday in my weekly guest blog. I’ll attempt to put a bow on it here. It hadn’t been announced by Monday, but the four-game suspension handed to Matt Barnes is a joke. Baseball is, as usual, complicit in the nonsense. Of course many will cry “precedent” when it comes for an explanation as to why Barnes didn’t receive a 20-or 30-game suspension.
I don’t care. He and John Farrell should’ve been penalized longer, and the manager didn’t even get the simple slap on the wrist that Barnes saw. This is all over now. Until the next time it happens. Then the conversation will begin once again, and once again, baseball will do nothing about it.
MLB is saying it’s completely fine with players throwing at one another, and even at their heads. That’s what they said by handing down a four-game suspension to Barnes.
That’s what they’ll continue to say going forward.
It’s a sad, but unfortunate reality.
2. I said this on Twitter as a brief, passing mention, but it deserves more attention – Monday’s victory for the Orioles will likely go down as one of their less noticeable but higher-quality wins of the season. When you consider the circumstances and the way the game was won in context, that was a really impressive triumph.
Buck Showalter said during his postgame press conference that he was really impressed with the win, and you could tell it wasn’t just a throwaway comment. With Ubaldo Jimenez struggling and the O’s slogging their way through the game offensively against Chris Archer, it didn’t look pretty. Throw in the poor weather and a team that was coming down off an emotional and exhausting series over the weekend against Boston, and it was a recipe for the O’s to roll over and die. But they didn’t. They instead battled back in the late innings with home runs, like they do, and then waited out a short rain delay to finish the job.
It was a lesson in perseverance and it paid off.
3. As bad as Kevin Gausman has been this season (and he’s been bad, we covered that here last week), the offense the O’s have put forth this season may be worse. We all knew coming into the season this team would be relying on the homer, just as it has in years past.
The Birds are averaging 3.95 runs/game so far this season, and that’s with outings of 11 and 12 runs in two of those games, inflating the number a bit. The figure puts them in the bottom third of the league, and while it’s too early to completely panic, it has been a bit concerning.
I’m sure the bats will heat up along with the weather, but does anyone believe they’ll heat up to the tune of 4.58 runs/game like last season?
One of the big factors is the bat many are pointing to as a big hole, Mark Trumbo. After re-signing in the offseason, Trumbo has been a dud so far and is hitless in his last 23 at-bats.
That’s sure to be a significant issue if the trend continues.
4. Speaking of trends continuing, Wade Miley has been surprisingly strong this season. He’s not going to blow you away with his walk totals, as giving up 14 free passes in four starts is not good, at all. But he somehow has maintained a WHIP of 1.00 by giving up just 12 hits in 26 innings. His ERA is a slim 2.08.
This is Wade Miley we are talking about. The same pitcher who is also rocking an 11.08 K/9 rate.
Now, I recognize that it’s just four starts. It’s not even May yet. We are seeing “peak Miley” right now. I get all of that.
But “peak Miley” is pretty good. And it’s been really good to see him as we are getting “valley Gausman.” It gives me a sliver of hope that when (if) Chris Tillman returns and when (if) Gausman returns to something of a decent form, the O’s may have a prayer of a rotation to go with an offense that everyone believes is on its way.
Everyone believes that, right?
5. Much has been made over the last week of the media’s role in baseball. A lot of it came after some reporters called for retaliation following last weekend’s shenanigans between the Red Sox and Orioles. I was no fan of any of it, and thought many of the Boston media should be ashamed of the way they reacted and instigated things following Manny Machado’s slide into Dustin Pedroia.
But not all members of the media are out there pushing buttons and being irked by their jobs.
The perfect example comes in the carnage seen by yesterday’s massive layoffs at ESPN. Along with many of its prominent football, hockey, college and SportsCenter voices, the Worldwide Leader said goodbye to some members of the baseball media as well. Dallas Braden, Doug Glanville and, yes, even Raul Ibanez were among some of the better baseball minds contributing to ESPN’s coverage of the game we all love.
But perhaps standing out above them all in the baseball realm is Jayson Stark, who spent the last 17 years at ESPN.
It’s tough to see any of the great reporters and voices at ESPN lose their jobs, but especially the ones you’ve grown so used to reading and hearing over the years.
Stark is one of those people, and I only hope he quickly lands on his feet, because baseball needs more good members of the media like him.