Griesser’s Suggested Change of the Week
The Orioles highlight of this week, while a disappointing one, is undoubtedly the exchange between manager Brandon Hyde and first baseman Chris Davis on Wednesday night. Though it easily could have been nothing, having that sort of scuffle caught on camera in a 14-2 blowout loss to the Yankees is downright embarrassing.
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In the aftermath, most of the discussion has been about who was or wasn’t in the wrong. Without much detail about what was actually said by Hyde or Davis, it’s really tough to say for sure.
The way I look at it, though, unless something ridiculously inappropriate was said by Hyde, Davis is in the wrong. Quite frankly, nothing will sway my opinion on that.
Before, keeping Chris Davis on the roster was a questionable move because of his abhorrent play on the field. Now, his performance isn’t the only thing making that decision incorrect.
This week, as a result of that, Mike Elias should get rid of Chris Davis.
Starting with the altercation itself, Davis has no place to be barking off at Hyde for pretty much anything. He’s the worst player on the team, but he’s being paid an absurd amount by the front office.
If the observations that he’s playing lackadaisically hold any weight, Hyde absolutely should be pulling him from contests in favor of players who truly deserve a shot. The Orioles are looking to build a team that at the least plays hard; if Davis isn’t doing that, he should be scolded for it.
On Thursday morning I saw a report from Roch Kubatko that said Davis wouldn’t be punished by the team for his actions. Personally, I hope this isn’t true, unless it means that he couldn’t be punished by a team he’s no longer a part of.
As a new manager, Hyde needs support from the front office in situations like this. The worst player can’t be disrespecting his manager for making smart in-game decisions, and if he does, a message must be sent. If Davis can get away with it, why couldn’t anyone else?
In that sense, Elias needs to put his foot down.
When it comes to making savvy baseball moves, Davis’ numbers speak for themselves. Over the last two years, he’s honestly been one of the worst players in MLB history. Make no mistake, last year was awful and there probably wasn’t anywhere to go but up, but Davis’ 2019 year is essentially just as bad.
For those who need a reminder, he’s batting .182 with nine HRs and 31 RBI.
At this point, his defense isn’t all that strong, either. Surely there’s a better option in each phase of the game.
The third aspect of my argument might actually be the most important bit. Even without the scuffle or his drop in defensive performance, Davis just creates a logjam at the first base or DH position. Given the number of decent-to-exciting players the Orioles have at these spots, we simply can’t continue having that.
Two names jump out as guys who could slide into either position Davis occupies: Mark Trumbo and Ryan Mountcastle. While the second is certainly more exciting given his potential for the future with this club, Trumbo’s return could actually be noteworthy.
If Trumbo were to hit or play in the field every day and re-found success in the majors, he could be interested in re-signing with the team on a one year ‘prove it’ deal. That way, he’d be another player Elias is able to ship off to a power-hungry team for a prospect or two. As is the case with most of those guys, we probably won’t get much, but in a rebuild like this, anything is worthwhile.
As for Mountcastle, the argument is simple. The kid’s hitting .315 at Norfolk and is fresh off a Player of the Month honor. He still doesn’t seem like he will ever draw a lot of walks, but like my colleague Paul Valle has been saying, perhaps that’s just who he is. For some guys, it works.
Unfortunately, because of Davis’ place on the team, giving Mountcastle an extended look is impossible.
In addition to making a move for Mountcastle possible, getting rid of Chris Davis simply gives the Orioles far more flexibility elsewhere.
For example, if Hyde wanted play DJ Stewart, Stevie Wilkerson, Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini in the same game, Mancini could be moved to the infield to play his natural position at first. Or, if Austin Hays began tearing things up and appeared healthy, the Orioles could conceivably move Mancini to first and have an outfield crew of Hays, Wilkerson, Stewart and Santander. On top of that, if the O’s prefer to have Nunez at first base instead of third, they can make that move.
For everything Davis has done in his time in Baltimore, I can honestly say that he’ll always be a player I love. He was instrumental in bringing the O’s back to relevancy and put together some amazing seasons.
But as much as I hate to say it, his last few years have been awful, especially given his outrageous contract. Now that he’s out of place in going after his manager on top of it all, it’s time for him to go.
Elias needs to send a message to the team, and this is the smartest way to do it.