Orioles Are Just Pretending to Try to Contend

Mike Wright winds up to pitch.
GulfBird Sports/Craig Landefeld

The Orioles played their second MASN-televised game of the spring on Wednesday, a game started by Mike Wright, another less-than-thrilling name thrown into the mix for the fifth and final spot in the rotation.

On the broadcast, announcers Jim Hunter and Jim Palmer fawned over the big right-hander for retiring six of the seven batters that he faced. Never mind the fact that he continuously missed his spots, throwing just 16 of his 31 pitches for strikes while facing a travel roster of Cardinals minor leaguers.

On the radio side of things, Joe Angel and Brian Roberts could also be heard singing Wright’s praises on the airwaves, talking about the owner of a 5.86 ERA in 144.1 big league innings as though he was the second coming. Did I miss something here? Was I watching a different pitcher in a different game?

All I saw was a glaring weakness for a team looking to improve upon a starting rotation that posted a franchise-worst 5.70 ERA in 2017. Mike Wright is just the latest in a barrage of names that ownership, management, and the front office alike are trying to pass off as legitimate rotation contenders to the fan base. And why? Because he’s out of options? So is Gabriel Ynoa, another name thrust into the competition who has no business starting every fifth day in the American League East.

Fans have to sit back each day and check the box scores of games started by the likes of Wright and Ynoa, not to mention two Rule V picks and a journeyman reliever whom the team picked up for next to nothing last season because he was deemed “uncoachable” (Miguel Castro).

Meanwhile Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are getting lit up (I know spring stats don’t mean anything, but it would be nice to see some success after last season’s failures) and recent signees Chris Tillman and Andrew Cashner have yet to throw a pitch in anger – between the two of them – this spring.

On the offensive side of things, fans get the privilege of watching the Orioles enter another season content with a platoon situation in right field. Here’s a news flash: John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke aren’t walking through those clubhouse doors anytime soon.

Nick Markakis has still yet to be replaced. Travis Snider was a complete waste of everybody’s time, and Seth Smith had the most misleading .258/.340/.443 slash line ever, as seemingly none of his hits came in critical situations after the beginning of May.

Enter Colby Rasmus, another hitter who–stop me if you’ve heard this one before–struggles to hit his weight, doesn’t get on base, and strikes out a ton. He should fit right in. Not to mention the fact that Rasmus up and decided to quit baseball last season for “personal reasons.”

Look, I get it, the man wanted to spend time with his family. But so does everybody else. Who’s to say he won’t have another change of heart midway through 2018? No worries, though.  He’s left-handed and Buck loves him (Ryan Flaherty anyone?), so he’s got a job. Personally, I’d rather they hand the job to Austin Hays and see if he sinks or swims, but who am I?

The bottom line is this: the Orioles payroll sits right around $125M for 2018, roughly $30M below last season’s payroll, and they’re putting together the missing pieces of a team that isn’t too far away from contention with sticks, mud, and duct tape.

Last I checked, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Jake Arrieta, Jon Jay, Carlos Gonzalez, and Melky Cabrera still don’t have jobs. But don’t fret, Baltimore, Scott Feldman is on their radar and Pedro Alvarez is back in the minors, just in case Mark Trumbo or Chris Davis gets injured.

Dan Duquette said all offseason that the Orioles are constructing a roster with the intention to compete and contend, yet the prized pieces they’ve acquired are Cashner (ERA of 4.34 and 5.25 prior to ‘17) and Tillman (7.84 ERA in ’17).

It’s time to you-know-what or get off the pot in Baltimore. This team believes it can contend as currently constructed, with a platoon in right field, four middling starters, and four Rule V players.

I’m not buying it, and neither should you.

This entry was posted in Bird Feed, Blog View, Featured by Paul Valle. Bookmark the permalink.

About Paul Valle

Paul Valle
Paul Valle is a Baltimore native who has always had a passion for baseball. But his passion goes beyond the average spectator. Paul has been studying baseball--specifically the Orioles--since his youth. He not only appreciates the on field play, but the strategy and statistics behind it. Paul obtained a Bachelor...more

13 Cheers on “Orioles Are Just Pretending to Try to Contend

  1. avatarMike F. on said:

    Wow someone is angry. Do you forget that going into September last season the Orioles were still a wild card contender and had a winning record with absolute trash pitching. Tillman was hurt all season, it was Bundy’s first full season as a starter, and Ubaldo, Miley, and Hellickson were awful. Now those latter three are gone, Bundy is only going to improve over time, Tillman is healthy again, and Cashner is definitely a step up from Ubaldo, Miley, and Hellickson. You want a Cobb, Lynn, or Arrieta, but you also forget that next year we are losing Machado, Jones, and possibly Britton, with Schoop looming right behind them in line for a big contract. Baltimore is a small market team, always has been and always will be. They have a lot of rebuilding to do in 2019 and they can’t do that if they throw big money at two No. 2-3 pitchers and another who obviously had his struggles in the American League never throwing below a 4.66 ERA during his time in Baltimore. Dan Duquette has his flaws sure, but you seem to be overlooking all the positive moves he has made to the clubhouse, including getting Tim Beckham for next to nothing and Miguel Castro because he was “uncoachable” and now he is one of our most effective long relievers in the ‘pen and you never hear about his bad attitude. The Orioles will contend this year for a wild card spot as long as they have Showalter as their skipper, because despite your baffling disgust for this team, Showalter has one of the smartest minds for baseball in the league today.

    • avatarJEFWEL on said:

      Wow, someone believes the tripe being spouted by the GM and the army of paid announcers on MASN. The Orioles were contenders because of a second wild card that means everyone 5 games below .500 or better is a contender. Tillman claimed he was healthy last year, but you now proclaim him heathy and ready to pitch to a 4.00 ERA. Sure.

      No help for the pathetic on base average for the offense, questions about defense at third base and right field. Oh yeah, Mancini is far from above average in left. I’m not angry, just pissed.

    • avatarBrian Shea on said:

      You are missing the point. This team has a long and rich history of shortcuts, and we are TIRED OF DUMPSTER DIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Derek ArnoldDerek Arnold on said:

      Which revenues? MASN still brings in a ton, plus every MLB team just got a $50 million check from the sale of MLB Advanced Media to Disney. Industry-wide, revenues and franchise values are at record highs.

  2. avatarTwoEdgedSword on said:

    Clearly, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Rasmus bothers me a lot. It’s baseball so expected the unexpected. But, his skill profile, in the best of cases, doesn’t fit the need. Austin Hays isn’t ready (sorry) so the solution is (perhaps was except for missed market opportunities) someplace else.
    Tillman bothers me. In the best of cases, he is the 4th starter and his incentive stats are potentially 4th starter stats. For that, he’ll get $10m? Let’s not forget that we’re arguing over $3m here and $7m there because somehow, they have to make up for $21m over at first base.
    That said, What the Orioles DO have is a run-producing lineup top to bottom with the potential to be tops in the league. Add to that, they have (again) perhaps the best relief pitching depth of any team in baseball (again). You can argue these points, but that’d just be for the sake of arguing. Their relief pitching and offense if just flat out very good. That is why they were “in contention” despite the worse starting pitching in history.
    Even so, making the playoffs is fine and dandy, but winning those games is the goal. Duquette has made some great bargain moves. But he’s made a few clunkers. Nobody’s perfect, right? But when you’re in the same division as two teams whose pockets are always just deep enough to get the best players every year, you HAVE to be perfect.

    • Derek ArnoldDerek Arnold on said:

      I don’t think disagreeing with your assertion that the offense is very good is arguing just to argue. In 2017, they were 9th in the AL in wRC+, 8th in runs, and 2nd to last in OBP. They don’t get on base enough, and again they did nothing to address that with their moves this offseason.

      When everybody is on, sure, they can be elite. In the first half of 2016, they had MLB’s 2nd best offense by wRC+. In the 2nd half, MLB’s 26th best. For about a month after the ASB last year, they had MLB’s best offense. Then, they fell off a cliff, and finished 10th in 2nd half offense.

      I think it’s more accurate to say that, while the offense can be great at times, it can’t consistently overcome mediocre-to-bad starting pitching because it is so – excuse the pun – hit or miss.

  3. avatarElbert Shore on said:

    If the Orioles don’t want to take a chance on two proven bona fide starters now( Lynn, Cobb) and they have plenty of cap room, they might as well get what they can now for next year’s free agents. Otherwise, they will finish last this year anyway, then really tank next year. If they try to win this year, they’re more likely to hold on to Machado et. Al. beyond next year.

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