News, notes and opinions: 100 losses, Yocum, Angels, Andino, Reimold
In case you are keeping track, the Orioles’ loss last night puts them back on pace to lose 100 games (62-100 to be exact). My colleague, Dan Connolly, keeps reminding me how tough it is for a team to lose 100. He brings up the fact that only one Orioles’ team since 1954 has done it, and reminds me that of all the bad baseball teams that we have watched side-by-side in the pressbox since 2005, none of them have lost 100 games. I get it as Buck Showalter likes to say. But it’s getting harder and harder to envision this team not losing 100. One, they seemingly lose another player to injury on a nightly basis. Two, there is nobody coming up in September who projects as a difference maker. And three, their schedule is absolutely ridiculous the rest of the way. Of their remaining 40 games, 26 of them are against the American League East. The Orioles are just 14-31 against divisional foes this season. Fifteen of them are against the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, who the Orioles are a combined 4-17 against this season. They play only one series – a four-game set next week in Minnesota – against a team not currently above .500. Take away the series against the Twins and the remaining 36 games on the Orioles’ schedule are against teams that enter today a combined 89 games over .500. Yeah, that will go well.
Please understand that I’m not making a joke here because shoulder and elbow injuries can be career-threatening, and I’m sensitive to that. But since last Friday, the Orioles have won only two games while sending four players (Jake Arrieta, Dan Klein, Chris Davis and now Jason Berken) during that span to see renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum. It’s not funny, but it is a fitting representation of what has become of this baseball season for the Orioles.
There aren’t too many positive days for Orioles fans, but I’d have to imagine that watching this series will only further depress Baltimore baseball fans simply because of how much young talent the Angels have and how they acquired a lot of it. Power-hitting first baseman Mark Trumbo, 25, was an 18th-round pick. Fleet-footed outfielder and leadoff man Peter Bourjos, 24, was a 10th-round pick. All-Star closer Jordan Walden, 23, was a 12th-round pick, and one of his top setup men, Bobby Cassevah, 25, was taken by the Angels in the 34th round. Outfielder Mike Trout, a 20-year-old considered one of the best prospects in baseball, was a first-round pick, but he lasted to 25th overall in 2009. Second baseman Howie Kendrick, 28, was taken in the 10th round. Throw in Ervin Santana, 28, and Erick Aybar, 25, who were both international free agents and you are reminded of one of the main reasons why the Orioles are close to clinching a 14th consecutive losing season. The Orioles’ scouting and player development departments, and the organization’s commitment to each, just hasn’t matched up, not to the Angels, not to so many other teams in the American League.
I know he’s not a very popular guy on this blog and he certainly has his limitations as a player, but I don’t think there is another Oriole who has improved more from Opening Day until now than Robert Andino. He had two more hits last night and he’s now batting .270. Among regulars, only Nick Markakis (.339) has a better on-base percentage than Andino (.336). His defense at second has also improved significantly as the season has gone on. I’ve said this before but as you look through the Orioles’ roster, there is only a handful of players who have exceeded expectations and Andino is high on that list.
Nolan Reimold has now played 93 big league games over the past two seasons and he’s batted .212 (59-for-278) with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs to go along with 30 walks and 63 strikeouts. It’s easy to be mesmerized with his power and how quickly he gets down the line, and he has a disciplined at-bat more times than not, but it’s going to be hard for team officials to ignore those numbers above when they sit down this offseason and decide whether they need to go after a left fielder.