23 June 2011

Cup of jO's (June 23, 2011): 3-6 against the Blue Jays, Nationals and Pirates...

Game Wrap
Pirates 5, Baltimore 4
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Summary

Zach Britton pitched well enough to keep the O's in the game, but is still drastically lacking in command -- particularly in the zone. Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds each squared a few, continuing to swing the bat well. But in the end, Baltimore once again fell short -- drop the series to the Pirates and finishing a disappointing road trip at 3-6. All the details in the recap linked above.

Of interest...
Of interest to me today is Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec's wrap of a disappointing roadtrip. The piece includes some interesting comments from a number of Orioles, including skipper Buck Showalter. All the typical "rough times in baseball" responses are covered, including this "can't dwell on the bad" from Buck:

"If you dwell on it between here and the plane, you can't live in that world...I can come back on some games that didn't look like they presented a good option for us but we ended up winning those games. We won one game in each city that we went into, and we'll try to learn from it. If you stay in that 'woe is me' mentality, nobody feels sorry for you. You've got to pick yourself up. We had some good things happen on this trip. We swung the bats well. Some guys are giving us a chance. We're fighting through some health things." -Buck Showalter, Manager

a sentiment echoed by last year's most potent offensive O's weapon:

"We're a much better team than what we're showing on the field. The only thing we can do is keep working hard and try to get to the point where we can maximize our potential. We haven't done that yet." -Luke Scott, DH/OF

There is truth to each of these statements. Baltimore has had to deal with some tough luck and some injuries. Another stark truth, unfortunately, is that until Baltimore shows the rest of baseball -- in the win column -- that the organization has turned a corner, it won't matter how much promising talent is on the roster or how many ESPN and Baseball America articles cite changes for the better in the front office and on the farm. The Orioles are, once again, in last. They are among the five worst teams in all of MLB in run differential, and they just dropped six of nine to three teams with plenty of their own struggles.

Does anyone honestly believe a free agent like Prince Fielder or Jose Reyes would look at this situation from the outside and feel confident that they will be part of a winning organization in Baltimore? Heck, how confident do you feel that J.J. Hardy will be willing to stick around if he continues with his impressive production in 2011?

The Andy MacPhail era started with a bang. The Bedard and Tejada trades brought in a solid collection of young talent, and Baltimore nabbed Matt Wieters, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz in an 18-month span. Since then, the additions to the farm have dwindled, and the Birds have remained firmly in the bottom third of baseball at the end of each season.

Within the next couple of years the young talent is going to start hitting arbitration and Baltimore will accordingly need to consider which kids they can afford to extend and which will need to be moved for more young talent. This off-season is of paramount importance. Either Baltimore figures out a way to bring in the right pieces to supplement this core and build a competitive 25-man roster, or we could once again be pointing ahead to the next collection of prospects that will turn things around -- this time Machado, Bundy, Bundy and Schoop.

This organization needs to put behind it the days of struggling with the other teams in the bottom third of baseball. Until they do, the idea of sticking with the likes of New York, Boston and Tampa will remain a pipedream...

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