It is August 10th, the Orioles have 70 wins, are two games up in the Rays for first place in arguably the best division in pro sports, and if you look at just the last 48 hours, you would think the sky is falling and the season is collapsing on our heads. In this article, I want to tackle multiple different topics but first I just want to address these last two games.
It’s the Astros
Let’s remember something about our opponent. The Houston Astros are the organization we are trying to emulate and for good reason. They are the gold standard in the sport right now and they know how to win. Sometimes, you just need to tip your cap to the other team.
No, it doesn’t mean Felix Bautista can’t handle the bright lights or that we should have traded for Mike Lorenzen over Jack Flaherty (more on this later), I just means that the other side gets paid too and the other side happens to be the best of the best and we just need to learn from it. It’s that simple.
The O’s had them Tuesday, and until Shintaro Fujinami imploded with two outs in the 8th inning last night, that game could have gone either way. No need to panic or even remotely worry about anything right now.
With that out of the way, let’s tackle some of the recent topics worth exploring starting with the trading deadline.
A Good Trade Deadline
The Orioles kicked off the trading deadline by trading Easton Lucas for Fujinami. This is nothing more than trading nothing for a lottery ticket. The Orioles are hoping they can harness Fuji’s great stuff and turn him into a weapon out of the pen. If they can’t, he doesn’t make the postseason roster and likely no harm is done.
For now, he should never be in a close game. He just doesn’t have the command or control to be relied on and it has greatly cost the team multiple times now. This does not mean he cannot become an asset though. It just means he is not one today.
Let’s be patient with him and just hope that Brandon Hyde doesn’t use him in more high leverage situations anytime soon.
The big acquisition was Flaherty. In exchange for a few months of him, the O’s traded Drew Rom, Cesar Prieto and Zack Showalter. This an A+ trade. We have already seen how good the stuff is from Flaherty and while it hurts to lose Showalter, the bottom line is losing the other two basically means nothing and you aren’t going to allow a 19-year-old 11th round pick with ~25 innings under his belt stop you from adding a legit upgrade when you are in a pennant chase.
Flaherty is a legit top-of-the-rotation talent and if he can harness his control and command and stay healthy, he can be back to that level production-wise as well. The early returns have been solid. He is getting a lot of Ks and missing a lot of bats. He has kept the walks down and only allowed one homer so far while facing two of the top 10 offenses in the sport. Trading for Flaherty made more sense than trading higher ranked prospects and taking on more money for marginal at best upgrades who don’t make the team much better, if at all.
Who Goes for Mullins?
The next topic to address is the roster itself. After today’s game, the Orioles are set to embark on a west coast trip and it sounds like Cedric Mullins will be back tomorrow. Outside of the time period he needed to get back into the swing of things when he first came back from the injury, Mullins has been an All-Star level centerfielder all year and is a welcomed addition back in the lineup. It also sounds like, if all things go well, that Aaron Hicks will be back starting with the San Diego series.
With these two additions, it means two players must go. One will be Ryan McKenna. The other is likely to be Colton Cowser. Cowser has struggled with both the bat and the glove thus far but he has recently shown signs of getting more comfortable and has been unlucky at times. His numbers should be much better than they are, although they still wouldn’t be good.
Should the O’s send down Cowser? No, I don’t think so. They should be playing him four or so times a week. Let him get his at bats and get better. They will be a better team for it in the long run.
Take out those first few weeks when Hicks got here and he has not been good. His OPS is in the low 600s since then and the defense hasn’t made up for it. And that is before we talk about Jorge Mateo, who is another nothing with the bat. His defense, which is still good overall isn’t quite at the level is was last year either. So, why are the O’s keeping them?
The answer is simple. It is because they view them as valuable bench commodities for the playoffs. If you go back to the trading deadline, Mike Elias had a press conference and he talked about how they weren’t looking to make additions to make the playoffs, they were looking for additions to win in the playoffs. That is their focus right now. They want a playoff roster with Mateo’s speed/defense and they want Hicks’ ability to have a professional at bat late in the game if needed.
That is the reason they are here.
Personally, I would like to see both gone and have Cowser and Joey Ortiz up here playing a lot and just having what I feel would be the better and more talented overall team. I think that is more important than keeping inferior players around for situations that may or may not come in October.
John & Kevin
With the “fun stuff” out of the way, I now want to tackle the little man in the room, John Angelos. There are two huge stories around him right now and I wish to briefly discuss both.
First of all, let’s address the lease. To begin with, let me state something that everyone should understand by now but yet so many seemingly do not.
The Orioles ARE NOT MOVING!
MLB requires a 75% vote from the owners to approve a move. That is just not going to happen. There is no reason to move the Orioles. They have arguably the best stadium in the sport, a great fan base, a rich tradition, $600M waiting for them for stadium improvements and an RSN (we will see what happens to RSNs everywhere). You don’t just get to move a team because you feel like it and because your wife is in the country music business (can she really leave Brad Brach?). Plus, MLB very clearly dislikes the Angelos family, likely because of the MASN dispute and just their general personalities. They won’t even give them the All-Star game and we think they will grant them a move to another city? Come on people, move past this.
As for the lease itself, let’s call this for what it is: a shakedown. Angelos wants more money because, like all of these deals, he wants to make sure he takes care of developers, politicians and anyone else he can to make sure he gets the money and power he craves. He is nothing more than a sleazy used car salesman that is doing what he can to eventually steal money out of our pockets as they increase taxes for projects he stands to make 100s of millions of dollars on. Make no mistake about it, that is all the holdup is. There is no threat of moving. It’s just a money grab, nothing more and nothing less. Notice how the Ravens got their money, signed the lease and made is easy and simple?
That’s the difference between a real businessman and a petulant child who has been handed everything and never had to work for it.
Now, let’s address the Kevin Brown situation. Whether it be Britt Ghiroli or Dan Connolly or Al Michaels or Michael Kay or the countless of other members of the media or broadcasting world, I think the stupidity of this decision has been discussed enough to not go over it again. We know how incredibly stupid this was and that it likely means a good, young, up and coming broadcaster is going to leave after the season.
For me, the potential impact is larger. The fan base is so worried about the team moving that they are ignoring the real long term issue with this team. It’s not the team moving, it’s what happens if this situation really opens the eyes of Mike Elias and those who work with him and they all decide to leave for another team. We know that Elias has largely been allowed to do what he wants but we don’t know everything. We don’t know about extensions; we don’t know about budgets and payroll. We know he made a comment in the past about not being able to “buy prospects” (see what the Mets just did) and that he would like to do that. But does something like this really open his eyes? We know that Elias has completely different politics from Angelos and while that has been known for a while, who is to say that doesn’t become an issue in the eye of Angelos down the road? Or, just any other reason where a rational situation/person would think is nothing but now, you have to be concerned about.
The future of this organization is secure in Baltimore but is what is likely a bright future of the organization secure? If Elias were to leave or Angelos just wakes up one day and doesn’t like the way Elias buttons his shirt and fires him, does Angelos find anyone competent to work for him and if not, do we revert back to the 2000s again? That is my biggest concern coming out of all of this Kevin Brown stuff. Hopefully that concern is unwarranted but this man is so unhinged, that I can’t dismiss the possibility and the idea that we, as a fan base, have to even be thinking about this during such a great season is gut-wrenching.
Never has the future looks so bright for Birdland and yet John Angelos is doing everything he can to be a giant solar eclipse. #selltheteam