Thursday Thoughts: Schoop’s Struggles Put O’s in Tough Spot

Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Photo

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. As of last year, I cut it down to four or five, so consider it the Earl Weaver/€“Brooks Robinson era of Thursday Thoughts. – A.S.

1. The 2018 Orioles won’t go the whole season without sweeping a series. Okay, it was just a two-game series. And okay, it was just the Mets. But it still counts. The Orioles needed just three runs to win two games this week in New York, and they officially have a win streak, their first one in almost two weeks.

It’s just their fifth series victory of the season and their second on the road. Incredible. I am over the idea of getting excited over wins this season, because they really don’t mean anything. But I will at least try to enjoy them as few and far between as they may be.

It’s all we have at this point to keep from slipping into the deep, dark void.

2. The Orioles capped their draft yesterday, selecting a total of 40 new players. Some will sign, some won’t and none of it will really matter to the big league club for a few years. What’s more important than who the Orioles DID draft this week, is who they DIDN’T draft.

Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich was not among the 1,214 players drafted. For those living under a rock, Heimlich is the talented prospect who is also a convicted sex offender. He pleaded guilty to a felony count of molesting his six-year-old niece when he was just 15. The guilty plea included admissions from incidents in 2009 and 2011, but he has since denied that anything happened. What’s more is that according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, the first-round talent was apparently being watched closely by the Orioles.

The piece revealed that the O’s had discussions with Heimlich about signing him as an undrafted free agent months after the details of his case were disclosed by “The Oregonian.” This would’ve been an obvious PR nightmare for the Orioles, who have already had no shortage of those in recent years. Many teams said Heimlich was not even on their draft boards this year, and that’s obvious by the fact that he went undrafted.

But it leaves questions for what could happen going forward for the 22-year-old. The fact that the Orioles were involved in any kind of discussions with Heimlich in the past should raise big questions and it unveils just how deep the dysfunction inside The Warehouse may be.

3. Don’t look now, but maybe the Alex Cobb signing wasn’t an unmitigated disaster like some thought it was looking to be a month or so ago. The overall numbers look awful, but if you exclude Cobb’s disastrous three April starts, he’s pitched to a 4.20 ERA. No one is claiming that’s great, but it’s certainly capable of holding up as a fourth or fifth starter in the AL East.

If you remove one of Cobb’s May starts, his May 23 outing against the White Sox, he’s pitched to a 3.16 ERA since April over 37 innings. Cobb’s latest outing on Tuesday night was six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts. He allowed just two hits and one walk against the lowly Mets.

I don’t think they would ever consider it after signing him to a four-year deal this past offseason, but the Orioles should seriously think about floating Cobb in a trade. If they aren’t going to be competitive for a few years, there’s no real reason to have him around. He’s an asset as a veteran pitcher and could be helpful to a potential playoff team. There’s also a big question as to what the O’s could possibly get for him in a deal, seeing that there’s a decent amount of money on his contract.

But the team control is there and the trade market for pitching could be somewhat thin this July. It’s something to think about.

4. Jonathan Schoop should be thanking Chris Davis each day for distracting people from his awful season. While Davis has been the worst hitter in baseball at the plate this season, Schoop isn’t following up his All-Star campaign very well either. The second baseman spent a little more than three weeks on the disabled list with an oblique injury, but his time spent on the field has not impressed.

Schoop’s hitting just .232/.257/.375 this season with five homers and a 41/4 K/BB ratio. The Orioles are in a very weird place with Schoop. He’s a free agent after next season, and I can’t imagine he has any trade value at this point. I also can’t imagine they’d be enthused about giving him an extension (or that he’d want one at this point with his value so low). Schoop is obviously capable of being a big league second baseman, and a pretty good one. But there’s also a very good chance we’ve seen Schoop’s peak season already.

That’s not to say he can’t be a valuable contributor going forward, but his .293/.338/.503 season with 32 home runs last year might be his best offensive campaign. Schoop is also perhaps the biggest and best example of why the Orioles should be spending on the international market. He could be a lasting reminder as to the gold that can be found when you actually look for it.

Because he still has a year after this one left on his contract, I don’t think the Orioles will look to trade him this year. But they have to come up with a plan for him. If they have no designs on giving him a contract beyond next season, he should be traded immediately.

As much as Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Zach Britton are question marks for this year’s trade deadline, Schoop will be next year’s problem.

And the Orioles are so bad this year, that they should already be looking to address next year’s problems.

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