The Orioles Are Horrible; Their Future Doesn’t Have To Be
Through the initial 31 games of the 2018 season, the Baltimore Orioles are a remarkable 15 games under .500.
They’ve been putrid.
They’ve become nearly unwatchable.
Memories of three post-season appearances between 2012 and 2016 feel like fairy-tale stories from an alternate reality.
80% of this ’18 season remains to be played, but the dye has been cast. This team isn’t good.
I continue to think their true-talent is closer to .500 vs. this ridiculous display of ineptitude we’ve seen to date (a .258 winning % as of this morning); but that is neither here nor there.
They will play better at some point, but they aren’t good, and they aren’t digging out of this hole.
Nothing can save this ’18 season, that’s a lost cause. A sunk cost.
The bright side my fellow O’s fans, is that by definition, the future is unwritten.
An undetermined future means opportunity exists.
When you arrive at a cross-roads, you have to make decisions on the path you take.
Make the wrong choices in the immediate future, and this depressing display will continue.
Make enough quality decisions, and you’ll arrive at at more attractive destination.
Now, I believe the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior. And, because of that, it’s fair to say the burden of proof falls on the O’s organization to show they will change how they operate, and consistently show improved decision making.
But anyone that says the O’s are doomed to years of failure is wrong.
The O’s don’t have to relive 1998 through 2011.
You have a litany of complaints against the O’s for their past crimes and misdemeanors?
Yeah, so do I.
I’m generally done rehashing those issues though.
I mean sure, learn from past mistakes, and use that knowledge to improve your decision making going forward.
But constantly litigating those past choices? What’s the point? Those decisions are made.
The focus for me is today. What are the choices they are making now? Those choices will determine where the O’s go from here.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
1) John Angelos is in charge. What does he want his organization to look like?
2) You entered 2018 willing to have Executive VP Dan Duquette and Manager Buck Showalter on the last year of their deals. Part of that was because you believed you would be relevant enough this year, to focus solely on the ’18 season in ’18. However, 20% of the way through this ’18 season, ’18 is over, and the focus is now about the future.
If Duquette is not going to be part of the organization in ’19, he needs to be removed now.
You can’t have him in a decision making capacity about the O’s future, if he’s not part of the future.
Showalter continuing to Manage this roster, is a lesser issue, regardless of his to-be-determined future with the O’s.
My BSL Colleague Bob Harkins recently articulated it’s time to move on from both.
It might be.
If you’ve moved on from Duquette, the new EVP (GM) should be able to hire the Manager they want vs. being made to work with Showalter; of course that isn’t what happened with Dan and Buck.
If the O’s are going to install Brady Anderson as the EVP, then Anderson knows if he wants Buck to stay on as Manager, or in the organization.
If the O’s are planning on making Anderson official, just make the move now.
Brady can then make his decision about Buck, and Buck can decide for himself if he wants to continue to be part of the organization.
I think if Buck wants to continue on as Manager; I’d like to see that happen. But erase the uncertainty. That will help in the clubhouse today (and the rest of the year as you integrate more pieces who will have a chance to be part of the O’s future).
3) If the O’s are not convinced about turning over the keys to Anderson, there are other options. Here are four:
Jason McLeod – Chicago Cubs, SVP, Player Development & Amateur Scouting
Amiel Sawdaye – Arizona Diamondbacks, SVP, & Assistant General Manager
Mike Elias – Houston Astros, Assistant General Manager, Player Acquisition
Josh Byrnes – LA Dodgers, SVP, Baseball Operations
4) Where are you shipping Machado? The Dodgers? The Mets? Elsewhere? Find a home. Make it known he’s available, get the best offers, and move on. He’s months away from Free Agency. Even if later today the O’s offered him $300M, a NTC, and multiple opt outs… would he accept it? Hard to believe he wouldn’t want to test the market first. Even if Machado was receptive to discussing a deal, would the O’s give him opt-outs? Would Machado accept deferred money? The simplest thought feels like the right one. He’s not likely to be an Oriole next year, so make sure you get the most you can get for him now.
5) Britton is back throwing, and remains on pace to rejoin the O’s the first week of June. I’m not opposed to extending him. I think you could find a contract which works for both sides. I think he’s elite, and I think an elite closer makes everyone else in the pen better. I’m also not opposed to trading him. Negotiate now. See what an extension would look like. He’ll have plenty of time from early June to the non-waiver trade deadline to build back his trade value. If you don’t like what an extension would look like, or if Britton is not receptive to talking; then the decision with him is made for you.
6) Schoop is slated to begin a rehab assignment tonight, and tentatively scheduled to rejoin the O’s May 8th. I’d like to see Schoop extended (he’s under contract through ’19). Work on it now. Make it a priority.
7) You move Brach for whatever. Hopefully he gets hot prior to the Non-Waiver Deadline.
8) Camden Depot’s Matt Perez suggested the O’s should trade Bundy. I don’t see it. Agree that he’d bring a nice haul, but I don’t think the O’s have to punt on their immediate future. I think the O’s can build a contender during the remaining years of Bundy’s team control. I don’t see ‘Ace’ with Bundy, but do see a guy that knows how to pitch, and will continue to be a positive front-end starter.
9) If the O’s lock up Schoop, I’ll feel good about the positional core they can move forward with. Mancini, Sisco, Hays, Mountcastle. I get the questions which exist with each, but each has the potential to help in the near-term at minimal cost. Could also include Santander, and Mullins in that mix.
10) Davis has a .551 OPS through 98 ab’s. Showalter’s comments this past week were on point. Even if he doesn’t again reach the heights of 2013 and 2015, he’s a better player than he has shown. Has to go prove that though. Until he proves it, you keep him lower in the lineup, and you bench him when necessary. He’s got four full years left on the contract after ’18. He’s got deferred money coming to him until 2037. He’s not going anywhere. I think it starts with his confidence, and his approach. I’ve seen better ab’s lately, but that feels like wishing and praying until there is consistency.
11) Gausman’s revised mechanics seem encouraging. Take out his opening start of the year vs. Minnesota, and he’d have an ERA just under 3.
12) The O’s have $5.5M to spend Internationally.
As BSL Poster Drew Coker wrote at the message board:
“For the 2016-17 year, the Orioles signed a total of 5 international amateurs. FIVE.
They spent a total of 260k, with 150k of that going to one signing – Cesar Angomas.
In 2014-15 they had 14 total signings, with a total of 980k being spent. They were 2nd to last that year in spending. In 2015-16 they had 20 total signings, with around 1M being spent.”
I wrote above about not continuing to crucify the O’s about past decisions, so I won’t here.
But this is an opportunity for the O’s to adjust, and go another way this year.
13) The O’s Opening Day payroll in ’17 was $164M. In ’18, it was $148.5M. (The average being $156.25M.) In ’19, they are locked into $67M prior to Arbitration for Schoop, Gausman, Beckham, Joseph, and Givens. In ’18, those five are making a combined $19.2M. Let’s say with raises they get approximately $33M combined in ’19.
That’s $100M for:
Davis, Schoop, Beckham, Trumbo
Cobb, Gausman, Bundy, Cashner
Let’s say another $5.4M for Mancini, Sisco, Hays, Mountcastle, Bleier, Castro, Scott, Wright, Hess.
Theoretically, you’d have $50.85M +/- ($156.25M average Opening Day payroll over ’16 and ’17 – $105.4M) to spend to address:
– Another SP.
That other SP could be Harvey costing nothing.
CF could be Mullins. Could be Hays, with Santander in RF. Could be Jones for another year or two.
What about Free Agents?
Maybe Patrick Corbin? Dallas Keuchel? What would it take to add either lefty to the rotation?
Think the pen could use another sure thing? How about a return engagement with Andrew Miller?
Let’s say the O’s add Corbin.
Infield: Davis, Schoop, Beckham, Mountcastle, Sisco
Outfield: Mancini, Mullins, Hays
Bench: Joseph, Santander, Rickard, ?
Rotation: Bundy, Gausman, Corbin, Cobb, Cashner
Bullpen: Givens, O’Day, Bleier, Castro, Scott, Wright, Hess
If Elvis Andrus opts out of the $58M he’s owed over the next 4 years, he could be another option at SS, with Beckham going to Super Utility.
Wouldn’t say that team is a contender, but it’s interesting and I could envision a way that they could play-up.
There are lots of doors available to the O’s.
What path do they want to take?