What to do with the Orioles' DH spot in 2012
One thing to watch over the next few weeks is what the club does with their designated hitter role.
Last year, that spot belonged to Vladimir Guerrero, who is a free agent and is not expected to be back.
With all due respect to the future Hall of Famer, the Orioles could use a significant production increase from its DH in 2012. Last season, Orioles designated hitters were in the bottom five in the American League in home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and on-base-plus-slugging.
The other problem is that with Guerrero cemented at DH because of his inability to cover ground in the outfield, Orioles manager Buck Showalter lost a lot of lineup flexibility.
In 2012, Showalter would like to use the DH as a floating position with several players filling the role depending on matchups and partial-rest days.
“In a perfect world, yes, you’d like to be move guys around and do certain things with it,” Showalter said.
But, Showalter said, it all depends on the makeup of the 25-man roster, which is a work in progress.
It’s unlikely the Orioles will seek a DH-only like a Guerrero or a David Ortiz, or at this point in his career, Jorge Posada, if they can get another power bat at corner infield or left field.
“But short of that, we need to get somebody that helps us at the plate,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said.
And, Duquette said, it is possible the best option ends up being a DH-only player, though that’s not the ideal situation.
“I’m not sure how it is going to shake out in terms of DH,” he said.
One person we can’t forget is Luke Scott, who is coming off shoulder surgery and a lost 2011. If he is healthy – and the Orioles and Scott can agree to a reasonable contract for both sides – he could be the primary DH with some outfield starts (and emergency ones at first base). That decision will be made within the next month or so.
Mark Reynolds does not appear to be a DH option. He’s never done it and doesn’t want to – he said he needs the flow of a game to keep him involved and ready to hit. The Orioles could force his hand and make him DH several times a week, but giving him irregular playing time in the field could further hamper his already suspect defense.