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. We’ve almost made it through the most dreadful two days on the baseball calendar. No offense to the Triple-A All-Star Game, but it doesn’t do much for me. At least there was the Home Run Derby and MLB All-Star Game on Monday and Tuesday to keep us busy. Between yesterday and today, there’s nothing but waiting for a baseball fan. The second “half” of the season gets underway tomorrow, and for the Orioles, there will be a few tense weeks.
It’s obvious that the first half didn’t go as planned, but there are certainly positives to take from it. They are things like the seasons being had by Jonathan Schoop or Trey Mancini that the Birds hope can continue going forward. But there’s no question that in order to be in contention come September, the team is going to have to improve in some way.
Based on comments from Dan Duquette, he expects that to be by the level of play from the current members of the roster. The biggest question that still needs to be answered in the next few weeks is how exactly that roster may change.
2. When it comes to the Orioles and the trade deadline, I truly have no idea. I don’t think anyone really has an idea. I don’t think Duquette really has an idea. This whole notion of the O’s being “buyers” at the deadline is a smokescreen in my mind. They want fans to believe they are buyers, but truthfully they don’t have anything to make purchases (trades) with. This is a depleted farm system that carries virtually no value to a team looking to deal.
There also aren’t going to be too many teams looking to be sellers. The American League is so incredibly close that everyone can think they are a buyer. My best guess is that the O’s add a reliever. Not a good reliever, just some sort of reliever. Not a well-known player or a pitcher that can have a major impact. Just an arm. Just like they’ve done over the last few months in adding mediocre players to a fairly mediocre roster.
That’s about all I’d expect, and I’d expect they’ll spin that into being buyers.
Don’t expect the O’s to start shipping away players. That kind of thing hasn’t happened in a long time in Baltimore.
3. One thing the Orioles do have to look forward to as the second half of the season gets underway is the return of Chris Davis. It’d be nice to have the highest-paid player on the team start performing like it.
There’s been some chatter since we saw Schoop shift over to shortstop last week that there could be more movement along the infield upon Davis’ return. Ideas that include Davis playing third base with Manny Machado at shortstop have been tossed out there. I can’t imagine Buck Showalter would want to mix things up like that and take Davis off first base. This would allow Trey Mancini to play first base as opposed to the outfield and leaves the DH role for Mark Trumbo.
Davis’ defense at first base is very valuable, however, so I don’t think the O’s go down that route unless they get desperate to churn the lineup.
4. Former Baltimore Sun writer and current Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal revealed yesterday that his writing will no longer be featured on Fox’s website. In fact, Fox’s website will have no writing content, as it’s gone completely to videos. It’s another step in an alarming direction for Fox Sports and sports media in general. I know there are a lot of Orioles fans who don’t care for Rosenthal, but he’s one of the game’s best writers and voices. He’s been pushed aside with other great writing talents like Jayson Stark, who was recently let go from ESPN.
While Rosenthal’s reporting work can still be seen on Fox telecasts, his writing will not. Instead, Rosenthal has been forced to put his articles on Facebook until he finds another medium to publish his stories.
That’s a shame for the entire baseball writing industry.