27 April 2018

The Time Has Arrived For Something Crazy: A Plan

Through their own way of reloading, the Orioles headed into this season intending to compete. They signed Andrew Cashner, brought back Chris Tillman, added Colby Rasmus, and surprisingly added Alex Cobb in late March. While far from perfect, those signings, along with a handful of other minor moves, addressed some of their issues, and it wasn't hard to paint the picture of the O's finishing close to .500 and gunning for a wild card spot.

So far, all the free agent signings above but one (Cashner) look like disasters. On top of that, the Orioles, for some reason, decided to begin the year with three Rule 5 picks on the active roster. That didn't last long, with Nestor Cortes Jr. being returned to the Yankees soon after. Now Pedro Araujo and Anthony Santander remain, with Santander surely to be optioned in mid-May when he satisfies his Rule 5 requirements.

But the Orioles haven't started 6-19 and been outscored by more runs than any other team simply because of a poor offseason approach. Nearly every player not named Manny Machado, Trey Mancini, Dylan Bundy, Chance Sisco, and Richard Bleier has had a rough start to the year. Jonathan Schoop, Mark Trumbo, Zach Britton, and Tim Beckham are on the disabled list. Caleb Joseph, Chris Davis, Santander, Rasmus, Cobb, Tillman, and Cortes have posted an fWAR of at least -0.2.  This horrible start, the worst through 25 games since 1988 and the second-worst in franchise history, can't be pinned on a few players. It's a group effort, and things seem broken beyond repair.

The Orioles have scored the third-fewest runs per game (3.28) among all teams while allowing the fourth-most runs (5.60). They have the worst on-base percentage in baseball (.289), the fifth-lowest slugging percentage (.366), the second-lowest wOBA (.289), the third-lowest wRC+ (78), and the second-highest strikeout percentage (26.9%). They have one player with a wRC+ over 110: Machado (192). Tillman and Cobb each have an ERA over 9.80, and the supposedly dependable arms in the bullpen have been disappointing. The list could go on and on, but you get the point.

So what now? Fans are calling for firings and accountability. Someone must be blamed for this embarrassment, and it's not like the Orioles can get rid of Davis and some of the other underachievers. Predictably, fans want to get rid of the hitting and pitches coaches, or to fire Showalter, or to kick Duquette to the curb. But it's too late to fix anything for 2018, and maybe that's hard to stomach. The Orioles went into the season with Showalter and Duquette as lame ducks. There was uncertainty then, and things don't look any better now. That's why it's time to start planning for what's next. What matters is 2019 and beyond.

My opinion is I'd like to see the Orioles go outside the organization to find an up-and-coming GM candidate to take over for Duquette. I don't know who that person would be, but I think it's time for something new. It's not hard to see the O's building around some of their young players - Bundy, Mancini, Sisco, Austin Hays, Hunter Harvey, Tanner Scott, Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle, and more - by adding intriguing prospects to their current crop of minor leaguers. That new GM would also be able to hire the manager he wants, hopefully allowing things to fall into place as smoothly as possible.

That's surely a pipe dream, of course. If I had to guess, Brady Anderson will be the team's next GM (if he wants the job) and Showalter will stick around in some capacity. I'd guess that won't be in the dugout. That setup would not inspire confidence. Duquette may end up falling on his sword for the current disaster, but Anderson played a heavy role this offseason and should face some of the same criticism. He also helped bring back O'Day and Trumbo in previous seasons, with neither of those signings performing as well as expected either.

The Orioles need some new voices. They need to start operating differently and bringing in different kinds of players. They need to improve player development and get more out of their prospects. They need to draft better. They need to actually spend in the international market to bolster their farm system. And they need to do all of these things soon.

But again, pipe dream. The Orioles, with this current ownership structure, are still maybe not a desirable landing spot for intriguing GM possibilities despite the recent run of success. Don't forget how the Orioles ended up with Duquette in the first place.

The time for decisiveness has long past. After 2018 was always going to be the cliff, and the O's barely did anything to prepare for it. They tried to win, in the only way the Orioles could. But it's over, and real plans need to be made. Who will be making decisions going forward? What happens if Anderson isn't the next GM? How would Showalter in a front office role actually work?

The Orioles will likely punt on all these decisions until the last minute, as usual, but it's time to start asking these questions, and hoping for new voices.


Bill K said...

Instead of "Let's GO Os" the fans should start "Bucks got to Go"

Matt Kremnitzer said...


Pip said...

It's really difficult to assess blame without knowing who is in charge of what. Did Buck actually choose to have not one but two designated hitters on the team? Or was that forced on him by inaction from Dan/Brady?
Lots of other questions that are important but impossible to answer without more information.
I don't think Brady would be a good choice for general manager, I would much prefer to have someone from the Cardinals organization, where they have managed to maintain a consistently excellent team, despite never having a very high draft pick.

Unknown said...

“ “ A Plan”.
Spot On!!!

This alone would be New

Nothing can be achieved without a New Direction and from this Bew Leadership

Insanity- Doing the same thing with same decision makers / types and expecting different results.
Masochsmi - inflicting Pain in one Self with Insane same old same old !!

Unknown said...

Could be worse. Ask Capital fans who will again be put out of their misery by Penquins.
Came into league in 1975 with no Stanley Cups.

Unknown said...

The O's and Caps are very much alike. They both have to get to the post season to make money but for the O's thats not happening and for the Caps until they learn how to beat the Pens they are a second round team. Both teams need to clean house from the Gm, Coaching staff and scouts. For a GM look at the Cardinal, Red Sox, Yankee or Cubs organization. For a coaching staff Im not sure where to look other than maybe the Cubs or Cards. Please stop the coaching carousel of hiring a fired coach. Its time to start with a fresh young face.

josh said...

Anyone blaming this on Buck is dreaming. He can only do so much with the crazy roster he is given and the players’ performance. The fact is that this team is finally playing as poorly statistically predicted...which Buck has somehow pushed his teams to over-perform for almost his entire tenure.

Unknown said...

Here's a plan:

Ask John Schuerholz to come out of retirement to guide this team for the rest of the year, including trading Machado, Britton (if he comes back healthy), Adam Jones, and any other veterans that he can. Let him interview and choose the next GM, with the approval of ownership of course. Maybe Dan Duquette stays around for the rest of the year, still the nominal GM for the sake of continuity - but John Schuerholz is in charge.

John Schuerholz is a Baltimore native, and started his career with the Orioles. I can't imagine that he would turn down a limited time chance to set this team in the right direction.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I agree that Showalter is a large reason why these rosters have overperformed over the years, but I don't agree that there's nothing about him to criticize. I'm not sure if him even managing beyond this season is an option (does he want to manager or shift to the front office, or neither?). Still, my choice would be to find a new GM outside the organization, and that would lead to that selection picking the manager.

Showalter has done a lot of great things, but it may be time to move on.

Benana said...

Let DD leave by hook or crook and make Buck the GM. Managers are easier to find and replace but GMs leave their matk for many years.

Benana said...


Benana said...

The team is finally performing as Dumpster Diving Dan Duquette built it.
Rather see Buck be GM and find a manager who wants to follow in Bucks footsteps

Anonymous said...

Feels a lot like 1988. Bad season and the Eddie Murray trade produced virtually nothing usable. Yet, the O's recovered in short order and became playable again in the 90s. I think that potential is here as well. In this case, though, getting a surprise useful player or two for Machado and/or Britton is a must. Oddly, the pitching staff IS better this year. Just need everyone to regress to their baseline performance abilities. Grabbing Dickerson and Cave when they were available would have been a huge boon. Better, younger, and more controllable than Rasmus, etc... It's be nice if Hays or Mountcastle were doing anything in the minors.

Matt Bennett said...

Former players shouldn't be running front offices. Nerds should be running front offices. No to Brady Anderson.

I was born in 1998, the year the losing streak started. Although Macphail can take much credit, Duquette did put the final touches on the 2012-2016 window. We started winning the year he got hired and I'm thankful for that. That said, he has made too many mistakes to keep his job. That's how this business works. This dreadful team is his mess, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Just ran across the MLB.com article on most improved OF defenses. Pirates because of Corey Dickerson were included along with D'Backs because of Jarrod Dyson. The O's could have had Dickerson in LF, Dyson in CF, and Adam in RF. That would have been a good OF. The lineup could have been pretty good even if Dyson was platooned with Santander and Davis, Trumbo, Mancini rotated through 1B/DH.

The article mentioned that the O's are an OF defense that has regressed. That hurts especially with Trumbo not playing OF.

Lincoln Steele said...

Matt - I agree. Get the nerds in there! I would love to buy the Orioles, get the best performers in fantasy baseball running in conjunction with some writers from Fangraphs. Grab some folks from the Astros, Dodgers or Yankees. Start signing internationally, trade everyone.