PiR: O’s Err in Letting Christian Walker Go for Nothing

Christian Walker throws in Spring Training.
GulfBird Photo/Craig Landefeld

Maybe you are new to the Eutaw Street Report. Let me explain this article a bit. I remember growing up reading the sports pages of the Baltimore Sun newspaper every single day. I really looked forward to one specific article that ran every month or so that was a “Fact and Opinion” column. I believe it was John Eisenberg who wrote it. It must have been popular, because I remember the sports editor of The Aegis in Harford County, Randy McRoberts, copying the idea every now and then in his column.

It was a favorite of mine, and when I started writing for the Eutaw Street Report and the Russell Street Report three years ago, I wanted to do something similar. That’s when “Perception is Reality” was born. The “reality” is basically the fact, while the “perception” is my opinion on the topic of the fact.

For the first “Perception is Reality” of the new baseball season, we’ll start with a general state of the roster. There are a few spots that have a lot of competition and only Buck knows how it will end up in a month. But for now, we can go with educated guesses and strong thoughts.

REALITY: Christian Walker is now a member of the Atlanta Braves

PERCEPTION: How in the world did the Orioles let Christian Walker go without getting anything in return?

Walker is only 25 and was the Orioles minor league Player of the Year just two years ago. As a power-hitting first baseman, Walker was highly touted coming out of the University of South Carolina in the 2012 draft.

Now, I get it. When the O’s signed Chris Davis to his mega-deal and then re-signed Mark Trumbo this offseason, Walker’s value to the club went down. But he still had value. With the wheelings and dealings that Dan Duquette does, I’m really confused on how Walker got away with absolutely nothing in return.

REALITY: The Orioles have 14 outfielders in camp and will only keep five or six.

PERCEPTION: Realistically, 10 guys are fighting for spots: Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Seth Smith, Joey Rickard, Hyun-soo Kim, Dariel Alvarez, Aneury Tavarez, Anthony Santander, Michael Bourn, and Craig Gentry.

With all that DD has done to add speed in the outfield, most of those guys will not make the team. Most likely, the Orioles will only keep five or at most six of those guys on the 25-man roster.

Jones, Trumbo, Smith, and Kim are sure bets to make the team.

Bourn, after what he showed last season, was likely be the 5th outfielder for the team… that is, until he broke his right ring finger this weekend. He is now out at least four weeks.

That injury could re-open the door for Joey Rickard. He has minor league options, so with so many guys fighting for the job, he could start in AAA, along with Gentry. This would allow the Orioles to keep both Rule 5 guys, if they wanted. But unless they pull a Jake Fox or Jimmy Paredes, I don’t see that happening. I can’t see how the Orioles keep both and it appears that Tavarez has the lead in the competition.

To me, we should be watching Rickard, Gentry, Tavarez and Santander closely this spring, as they are most likely fighting it out for the final couple spots in the outfield.

REALITY: Pitching will continue to be a concern for the Orioles.

PERCEPTION: With Chris Tillman sidelined to start the season, it doesn’t feel like anything was improved with the Orioles rotation as we head into 2017. Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy NEED to take another step forward to help this team succeed. It would sure be nice to see Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley be more consistent in their starts. But then who?

Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Logan Verrett, Joe Gunkel, Richard Bleier, Gabriel Ynoa, and Vidal Nuno could all help in the middle innings from the bullpen, but I’m not counting on any of them stepping up into the rotation.

I’m still curious as to why the O’s didn’t sign a free agent starter like Doug Fister or Jorge De La Rosa. However, I do think Nuno and Ynoa could turn out to be decent finds for the O’s and might turn out to really help this team as we go forward. Fans just have to stay patient.

REALITY: I am fully recovered after having Brain Surgery January 12.

PERCEPTION: I know this blog is about the Orioles and not me, but I just wanted to say Thank You. I heard from a number of readers that they were thinking and/or praying for my family and me. It’s been less than two months from them cutting a hole into my brain and I’m back and everything’s good. I’m back to 100% and it’s pretty remarkable. So I’m very thankful to the doctors who helped me and thankful to God for watching over my family and me.

Follow me at @JoePolek on Twitter.

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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

One Cheer about “PiR: O’s Err in Letting Christian Walker Go for Nothing

  1. avatarSteve on said:

    Maybe it is conditions at Norfolk, but I don’t think Walker has much power. Probably not enough bat to play first base and not enough glove to play outfield.
    I enjoyed the piece. Happy to hear about your positive news and keep rocking and writing!

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