Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Orioles Make A Long Overdue Move

The Baltimore Orioles need a pitcher for their game tonight. There was a chance that they could have used Alfredo Simon, but he was forced into the game last night against the Texas Rangers and is unavailable. The other solution was / is to bring a pitcher up from the minor leagues (and since Mitch Atkins has been with the team for a few days it was pretty obvious that he was going to be the choice), and that is what they did.

There is an open spot on the 40 man roster, so that is not going to be a problem. However, the Orioles need to make room on their 25 man roster in order to have him pitch tonight. There was talk about sending Pedro Viola back to the minor leagues or designating Chris Jakubauskas for assignment, but instead Andy MacPhail has done something that should have been done a while ago (allowing me to get into a topic that people have been mentioning to me for quite a while now). They put Luke Scott on the DL.

Scott revealed that he had a torn labrum in his right shoulder in early May (he said he injured it in spring training). According to him it affected his throwing but not his hitting, but even for a hitter as notoriously streaky as Luke Scott (who has had cold stretches that rivaled a Yukon Territory winter) it has been a dismal showing.

Buck Showalter is not perfect (a cursory glance at his MASN commercials will show that), but he is very good. His biggest flaw might just be an over-commitment to his veteran players. He does have a track record of protecting his veterans, and to be honest I cannot think of any alternative as to why he kept choosing to put Luke Scott's name in the lineup every game.

This leaves the team with Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold as the 2011 version of Gary Roenicke and John Lowenstein (the roles most assumed they were going to fill until the Orioles signed Vladimir Guerrero to be the team's Designated Hitter). It is going to be interesting to see what Reimold does over the next two weeks (the Orioles can back date Scott's DL sting to July 4th, so with the All-Star break in the mix he could be back by the time the Boston Red Sox come to town July 18-20). In 2009 Nolan Reimold was a very pleasant surprise. He was only called up after Lou Montanez was injured, and he responded by winning Rookie Of The Month for June and ended up hitting .279 with 15 home runs in 104 games. Unfortunately he had to be shut down early due to a fraying left Achilles tendon, and he never seemed to find himself in 2010 due to not being able to train in the off-season and his not being fully recovered from the injury. Reimold was almost traded in the off-season this past year, but he had been training with Brady Anderson and Anderson told the Orioles' F.O. that it would be a good idea to keep him around.

To be honest, that was one of the things that made the Guerrero signing such a head scratcher. The only way it can be justified is if the Orioles knew about Luke Scott's shoulder, since he was slated to be the primary DH. But if they knew that why wouldn't they have put Scott on the DL from the beginning instead of letting him play for 3 plus months? If it was an injury that rest and rehab could have solved than sit him. If it is going to require surgery get him under the knife now so that he is ready to train in the off-season and can be 100% when spring training starts NEXT year.

But it seems obvious (at least to me) that the Guerrero signing was a panic move. The Orioles have a fan base that is dying for a winner, and it was pretty obvious that this year was not going to be the call from the Warden that the fans need. Signing Vladimir Guerrero was not going to change that, but he was sitting out there as a free agent and the fans were talking about him and what his bat would mean for the rest of the team. what they didn't take into account was that Guerrero is now at a point in his career where he needs protection in the lineup as much as he provides protection in the lineup. A big reason why he was so good last year is that he was hitting next to Josh Hamilton. The two of them fed off of each other and helped lead the Texas Rangers to the World Series. Derrick Lee, Luke Scott, and Mark Reynolds have not offered the same kind of protection as Josh Hamilton and Michael Young did last year. Add to that the ongoing injury issues with Brian Roberts tossing the daily lineup into upheaval from the top down (and taking away the table setter that makes all of the hitters behind him that much more dangerous) and you have a guy playing Designated Hitter and hitting cleanup that is hitting singles.

Now Vlad is still going to be the DH for a while, but at least the fans (and the management) will get to see what a Reimold / Pie platoon can do. And as much as I like what he can do when he is healthy, I harbor some hope that Luke Scott will not be back in the lineup in 15 days. It is time to really see what these two guys can do.

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