Examining the Orioles 2018 Season to Date: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Baltimore Orioles came into the season with expectations to challenge for at minimum the second Wildcard spot in the American League.  The team had brought back most of its notable offensive firepower from last season and had bolstered their rotation through the free agent signings of Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner.

However, as the Orioles and their fans are enjoying the 2018 All-Star break, the team is sitting at 28-69 overall, a whopping 39.5 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox. Only the Kansas City Royals at 27-68 have a worse record than the Orioles on the season.

Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2018 season to date.

The Good

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Manny Machado at the 2018 All Star Game. Image Credit: Getty Images

At 28-69 it is extremely difficult to locate any positives with this ball club, but the one player who stands out is soon to be ex-Oriole Manny Machado.  Machado is having yet another monster season hitting .315 with 24 homers and 65 RBI as we hit the All-Star break.  Not surprisingly, Machado is also the only Orioles representative at the 2018 Mid-Summer Classic.

It is expected that the club is nearing a trade for Machado prior to the end of the All-Star break which means that we may have seen the last of Machado in an Orioles uniform. Machado will hit free agency this summer and many Orioles fans will be hoping he doesnt sign in the Bronx with the New York Yankees.

Honorable Mentions for the good would include center fielder Adam Jones  (.275, 10 homers and 36 RBI) and outfielder/DH Mark Trumbo (.251, 12 homers and 28 RBI) who have put together decent seasons in what otherwise has been a year to forget for Orioles fans up to this point.

The Bad

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Image Credit: MassLive

The bad could go on and on but some points have to be slotted into the ugly category so to start off the bad lets look at Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini.  Mancini was a lightning rod for the Orioles offense last season finishing the year with a .293AVG while belting 24 homers and adding 78RBI. Mancini, 26 was late in arriving to the majors but many Orioles fans were expecting more of the same from “Boom Boom” in 2018.

Mancini has struggled throughout the year and is hitting just .216 with 12 homers and 26 RBI at the All-Star break.  Mancini has not been the same player since he crashed into the wall at Camden Yards on April 20 against the Cleveland Indians. Prior to the injury that saw him miss two games, Mancini was hitting .284 but has seen his average drop consistently ever since.

Also lumped in with the bad are the struggles of second basemen Jonathan Schoop. After a career year in 2017, Schoop is hitting .229 with 10 homers and 25 RBI to this point in the year.  Schoop missed 20 games with a right oblique strain from April 14- May 8 but was hitting just .230 prior to the injury. With Machado on the way out the contract talks (or lack there of) with Schoop could garner headlines this summer.

The Ugly

Where to start? Let’s start with the absolute abyss that is Chris Davis and the Orioles financial obligations to the first baseman.  Davis is enjoying what could be the worst season in MLB  history hitting .158 with nine homers and 28 RBI through the first “half” of the season. The Orioles owe the 32 year old over $90 million over the next four seasons and Davis has been so poor that he has been benched at multiple points throughout the year.

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Alex Cobb has had a miserable first season in Baltimore. Image Credit: USA Today

 

Davis is not alone in the ugly category to say the least. Free agent signing Alex Cobb is the second most disappointing Oriole to date. Cobb, who arrived in Baltimore after Spring Training had begun on a four year $57M contract, has yet to find his footing with the Birds. Cobb is 2-12 on the season with a 6.41ERA. Cobb had been a consistently reliable starter throughout his tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays but he has been Ubaldo Jimenez bad this year for the O’s.

For the rest of the ugly let’s consider the plethora of other reasons that this team is a dumpster fire. Colby Rasmus is not an MLB player and walked away from the club. Chris Tillman is barely a Single-A caliber pitcher at this point but is still being considered an option for starts in the second half of the season.

Tim Beckham is not an MLB third basemen. Trumbo cannot play the outfield. Danny Valencia, Craig Gentry, and Jace Peterson shouldn’t rank in the top ten on your team in games played if you have any aspirations for the playoffs. Furthermore Valencia, Gentry, and Peterson are taking at bats from younger players who should be getting the call up from the minors.

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Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

Which brings me to the ugliest of the ugly.  The Orioles organization as a whole is a complete and utter failure. No one seems to know who is in charge although according to sources it is not pending free agent GM Dan Duquette. If Brady Anderson is in charge now or in the future should we be optimistic about the guy who lobbied to bring in Cobb and other free agent bust Cashner?

Why at 28-69 has not a soul been fired including pending free agent Buck Showalter? I’m betting at this point that no one is going to be. There will be trades of fan favorites and some of the younger players folks have been pining for will be called up from the minors, but will we see any accountability from a coaching/front office perspective? If so when?

It has been a “first half” to forget in Charm City. There is plenty of intrigue regarding the Orioles and how their team and organization will look when they arrive at the end of the season and into the future.

Unfortunately it won’t be the on the field intrigue that many had hoped for in March.

Image Credit: MLB.com

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Orioles pick up pair of comeback wins over visiting Yankees

Game 1 (5-4 BAL): The Orioles kicked off their four-game series against the Yankees with a doubleheader. To the surprise of many, the O’s got the best of their American League East rival and snapped six-game losing streak with a 5-4 win.

Jimmy Yacabonis was called upon to make his second start of the year after turning in a decent outing in his first career start a few weeks ago. The Yankees jumped on the rookie pitcher early and picked up three runs in the first three innings. Yacabonis settled in after this and worked his way through five innings.

Mark Trumbo helped inch the Birds back into the game with a two-run blast in the fourth. It marked Trumbo’s 12th homer of the year and fourth this month. The Yankees got a run back in the sixth but the Orioles offense was not done yet. Trumbo led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Jonathan Schoop followed with a double, bringing Danny Valencia to the plate. CC Sabathia was approaching 100 pitches on the hill but remained in the game to face Valencia. This ended up being a somewhat questionable call as the right fielder sent a three-run shot to deep center, giving the O’s a 5-4 lead.

Mike Wright, Mychal Givens and Zach Britton closed out the last three innings with ease to secure the win. The victory marked the Orioles’ first in game one of a series since June 22 when they defeated the Braves in extra innings.

Game 2 (10-2 NYY): The Orioles could not keep their good fortunes going when game two rolled around. Yefry Ramirez got the start but failed to work at the fast pace he had displayed in his last two outings. Didi Gregorius put the Yankees on the board in the first inning with an RBI double. The lineup continued to threaten later in the inning by loading the bases but Ramirez escaped with a timely strikeout.

A two-run homer by Brett Gardner extended New York’s lead in the fourth. Ramirez’s pitch count was inflated but the rookie pitcher managed to finish off the inning. However, the Yankees finally forced Ramirez out of the game in the next inning after Greg Bird picked up an RBI single.

The score remained 4-0 in New York’s favor for the next three innings as Ryan Meisinger entered the game for the Orioles out of the pen. The 24-year-old made his MLB debut late last month and has seen a decent amount of appearances since then. Monday night’s outing stands as his best so far. Meisinger struck out three while tossing three perfect innings.

After Meisinger’s exit the bullpen completely fell apart. Brad Brach came in for the eighth and picked up two quick outs but failed to close the door. Four Yankees batters picked up two-out hits, including a home run by Austin Romine and an RBI double by Gardner. By the time Brach was yanked, the Yankees had picked up an insurmountable 7-0 lead.

Tanner Scott came in next but couldn’t get the third out fast enough. The Yankees loaded the bases and picked up an eighth run via a throwing error by Schoop. The Orioles finally got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Tim Beckham hit his first home run since returning from the disabled list in late June. New York would go on to get those two runs back in the ninth as they wrapped up a dominant 10-2 win in game two of Monday’s double header.

Game 3 (6-5 BAL): On Tuesday afternoon it was reported that the New York Yankees had entered the trade conversations for Manny Machado. In a year filled with misery for O’s fans this felt like just another jab to the gut. However, those same fans were able to sleep well on Tuesday night knowing that Machado still remained on the O’s long enough to help lift his team to their fifth win over the Yankees this season.

The All-Star shortstop went 3-for-4 at the plate with two game-tying home runs. The first came off of Masahiro Tanaka on the very first pitch of the fifth inning. The New York starter had just come off the disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game but it was not a smooth transition back to the rotation for him. Tanaka only lasted 4.1 innings with Machado’s leadoff homer, marking the third and final run surrendered for the Yankees starter.

Machado’s second homer came in the seventh off of Chad Green. Adam Jones helped set the table by getting on base with a single and Machado followed with a deep shot to right field. Aaron Judge gave chase all the way back to the wall but the ball landed just out of reach for the 6’7″ right fielder as he leaped up in an attempt to rob Machado. The umpires needed to review the play despite the ball landing on the grounds crew roof but the correct call was ultimately made after a brief delay.

The game would remain tied going into the ninth inning. The Orioles bullpen had tossed 2.2 clean innings of relief and the offense responded with one more rally. With Dellin Betances on the mound it seemed almost certain that the game would be going into extra innings but the Orioles caught a break when Caleb Joseph got hit by a pitch in the first at-bat of the inning. Jones kept the momentum going with a double down the right-field line that somehow managed to stay fair. The big hit allowed Joseph to go to third for a sac fly opportunity.

Trumbo came to the plate and turned in a terrible four-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout. Trumbo appeared to be thrown off right from start and couldn’t find a pitch to drive to the outfield. After this, the weight of the game fell onto Schoop’s shoulders and the second baseman did not disappoint. After watching the first two pitches, Schoop found one he liked down and away in the zone. Schoop extended his arms down and poked the ball past the reach of Greg Bird at first base for the game-winning RBI.

Game 4 (9-0 NYY): After an exciting walk-off win on Tuesday the Orioles had stumbled into the opportunity for their second series win over the Yankees this year. However, New York’s offense jumped all over the Orioles pitching staff and forced a split with their second blowout victory of the series.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the O’s and struggled again in his second start since returning from a brief stint on the disabled list. Bundy had a clean start in the first two innings but quickly unraveled in the third. After putting runners on the corners with two outs, Bundy surrendered an RBI single to Giancarlo Stanton. The damage didn’t stop there. The Yankees loaded the bases and Bird came up big with a grand slam down the right-field line. The ball was hooking to the right but bounced off the foul pole before drifting too far.

Bundy worked one more inning before being replaced by the bullpen. Wright, Jhan Marinez and Donnie Hart all entered the game for the O’s but none of them could keep the Yankees off the board. New York picked up four more runs over the course of the rest of the game to eventually rack up a 9-0 lead.

Tyler Wade put the fifth run on the board in the sixth with his first career home run. Romine launched a solo home run as well and Stanton rounded out the scoring with another RBI single. The Yankees have outscored the Orioles 60-42 this year but the season series is tied up 5-5.

Up next: The Orioles were originally scheduled to have Thursday off but will now be playing a make-up game against Philadelphia. The Orioles and Phillies were meant to play a brief two-game series back in May but the first game had to be postponed due to rain. The O’s will finish off the week by hosting the Texas Rangers before getting a four-day break next week for the All-Star game.

Image credit: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

Orioles extend losing streak to nine before salvaging a win over Marlins in series finale

Game 1 (2-0 MIA): The Orioles came into this weekend’s series with an eight game losing streak, their longest of the season. They were, and still are, extremely down on their luck, but with the struggling Marlins in town there might have been some room cautious optimism.

I know that sounds crazy but consider the fact that just last week the Orioles rallied for a pair of interleague wins over the Mets. Miami isn’t too far off from the Mets in terms of competition. In addition to that, the Orioles would be playing in their home stadium this time, meaning the much needed DH position could be used.

However, this brief moment of optimism was erased pretty quickly in Friday’s series opener. Kevin Gausman was decent enough in his 5.2 innings of work. The O’s starter gave up just two runs on five hits and struck out seven. Completing the sixth inning would have been nice but you can’t complain about that kind of start.

As you should expect at this point, that quality start was completely wasted as the Orioles offense mustered just three hits and never crossed home plate. Jose Urena got the start for the Marlins and ended up turning in his best performance of the season. The 26-year-old starter shut down the O’s with eight strong innings to earn just his second win of the season. The great start not only marks Urena’s deepest of the year, but also the first start this season where he kept the opposing lineup scoreless.

If there was a bright spot for the O’s, it was the bullpen. Four relievers entered the game after Gausman and they combined to give up just two hits in a little over three innings of work. Zach Britton made his second appearance of the season and looked much better than he did earlier this week. While Britton escaped that inning of relief on Tuesday without giving up any runs, he did allow three walks to put himself in a jam. On Friday Britton made quick work of the Marlins to retire the side in order with a pair of strikeouts.

Game 2 (5-4 MIA): The Orioles played another close game on Saturday but came up short once again. The Marlins looked like they might run away with it early after scoring four runs in the first three innings, but the Orioles would eventually make it a close contest. J.T. Realmuto led the scoring effort for Miami with an RBI single in the first and then a two run homer in the third.

In the bottom of the third, Manny Machado cut the Marlins lead in half with a two RBI single. The score remained 4-2 through the fifth but then Realmuto came around and got the best of Alex Cobb once again by launching a solo homer to make it three run game.

The Orioles offense was able to respond once again with a Jonathan Schoop solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. Danny Valencia followed that up with an RBI single in the seventh to cut the Marlins lead to one run, but the comeback would end there for the Orioles.

Brad Ziegler and Drew Steckenrider provided some much needed composure for the Marlins out of the pen. The duo combined to shut down the eighth and ninth innings while securing a win for Miami.

Game 3 (10-4 BAL): After playing from behind in the first two games, the Orioles didn’t waste any time taking the upper hand in Sunday’s series finale. Just like the Marlins did the day before, the O’s lineup was able to take an early 4-0 lead by the end of the third inning.

Jace Peterson got it started in the second inning by sending a ball deep to center field. It sailed over the outfielders heads and landed on the warning track before bouncing over the wall. Luckily for the O’s, this ground rule double didn’t have a negative impact since Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop were both in scoring position to start the at bat.

In the third inning the Orioles added two more runs thanks to an RBI double by Trumbo and an RBI single by Trey Mancini. The two runs would end up being huge considering the O’s started the third with two quick outs. Despite this, the heart of the order managed to pick up three hits, including the two RBI’s, and a walk before ending the inning.

By the end of the fifth the Orioles had captured an impressive 8-1 lead. Adam Jones knocked in two with a double in the fourth and Peterson added another two with a home run in the fifth.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the Orioles and looked like he was on pace for a great afternoon. Through five innings Bundy had already received more than enough run support, but also held the Marlins lineup to just one run, which came via a home run by Justin Bour.

Bundy was working at an impressive pace and had kept his pitch count down early on. The sixth inning would stop him in his tracks though. After putting two runners on base to start the inning, Bundy had to face Bour for a third time. Once again the Marlins designated hitter got the best of Bundy and sent a three run homer over the right field wall to make it a 8-4 game.

Bundy’s afternoon came to an end after it took him just shy of 30 pitches to finish off the sixth. With the Marlins threatening again in the seventh, Buck Showalter opted to use three different relievers to get through the inning. Miguel Castro got the inning started but quickly loaded the bases without recording an out. Mychal Givens came in and picked up two outs but was replaced by Tanner Scott with Bour coming up to the plate. The 23-year-old lefty handled the pressure very well and got Bour to strikeout looking.

The O’s offense had already done enough but they still managed to push two more runs across in the late innings. A Mark Trumbo solo homer and RBI single by Manny Machado helped cap off the ten run afternoon for the O’s. Brad Brach and Zach Britton closed out the last two innings with ease to break the Orioles nine game losing streak.

Up Next: The Orioles will take Monday off before making a short trip down the beltway to face the Nationals. When these two teams met at Camden Yards back in late May, Washington walked away with a sweep. These next three games will wrap up the season series between the Nationals and Orioles for 2018. The Nationals only need to win one game for their first season series win over the Orioles since 2007.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

Orioles look to carry success from Mets series into Toronto as road trip continues

TORONTO — Earlier this week the Orioles (18-41) kicked off their current road trip with a pair of interleague wins over the Mets. Say what you will about the level of competition but the O’s put together two quality wins on the shoulders of some great starts by Alex Cobb and Dylan Bundy. The pair of wins wasn’t attractive from an offensive perspective but still good enough for the teams second road series win of the season.

Before I give myself a headache thinking about how long it will take the O’s to win a series outside of Maryland or New York, let’s switch our focus to this weekend’s matchup against the Blue Jays (26-34). Toronto finds themselves at the bottom of the AL East as well, but still seven games above the abysmal Orioles.

It wasn’t long ago when these two teams were trading punches in a handful of exciting matchups. Jose Bautista butted heads with the Orioles pitching staff for years before the rivalry reached its peak with a thrilling extra inning wildcard game in 2016. Less than two years later and things feel a lot more tame. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but fans may be crossing their fingers for some of that excitement and tension to reappear this season as the Orioles continue to become less and less interesting to watch.

Last meeting: The Orioles hosted the Blue Jays back in early April after opening the season with a 4-6 record. They had just taken three of four against the Yankees and were looking to turn their early season woes around. However, Toronto would end up taking the first two games before the O’s could scrap together a win in the series finale. The attendance at Camden Yards during the series was the lowest of the season with an average of less than 9,000 fans showing up for each game.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Thursday, June 7, 7:07 pm – David Hess (2-2, 3.47 ERA) vs Jaime Garcia (2-4, 6.08 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Friday, June 8, 7:07 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-7, 5.02 ERA) vs J.A. Happ (7-3, 4.08 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Saturday, June 9, 1:07 pm – Kevin Gausman (3-5, 4.63 ERA) vs Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.48 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Sunday, June 10, 1:07 pm – Alex Cobb (2-7, 6.19 ERA) vs Marco Estrada (2-6, 5.29 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • Jonathan Schoop is just one of many Orioles players in the midst of a slump. The second baseman hit right around .230 in both April and May and missed a good chunk of time due to injury. So far in June Schoop has collected four hits in three games which could signal toward a much needed turnaround. However, Schoop put together similar numbers last month when he went 9/31 with nine RBI’s in his first seven games of May.
  • Zach Britton made his third rehab appearance on Tuesday night and continued to be effective. The O’s reliever worked through an inning and a third, striking out one and allowing no hits. He did hit a batter but never let it come back to bite him. Britton is still on track to potentially rejoin the Orioles next week at the earliest.

Notes on Blue Jays:

  • The Blue Jays expect to get Josh Donaldson back at some point during this weekends series. Donaldson landed on the disabled list at the end of May with tightness in his left calf muscle but is now ready to return to the field. The former American league MVP has hit .270 with 12 home runs and 51 RBI’s against the Orioles in his career.
  • J.A. Happ has arguably been the best starter in the Toronto rotation so far this season. Despite being one of the most consistent members of the pitching staff, his difference between his home and road starts is staggering. Happ holds a 4.91 ERA in seven starts at the Rogers Centre, but his road ERA is just 2.97 in five starts.

Image credit: Evan Habeeb / USA Today Sports

Series Recap: Orioles end 11-day win drought with sweep over Mets

QUEENS, NY — The Baltimore Orioles earned a two-game sweep over the New York Mets on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon. Baltimore’s record moves to 19-41, 22.5 games back in the American League East. The Mets fall to 27-32, extending their losing streak to six games. They now trail the National League East-leading Braves (36-25) by eight games.

Game 1 (2-1 BAL): The Orioles plated two runs in the first inning, and that ended up being all they needed to win for the first time in 11 days, ending a seven-game losing streak.

Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado got it going right away with three straight singles to begin the game. Mancini scored on Machado’s single, which simultaneously moved Jones over to third. Then, Danny Valencia flew out to left field, but Jones scored and awarded Valencia an RBI.

Machado stole second base after his single, but Mark Trumbo struck out and Jonathan Schoop flew out to end the top of the first inning.

Alex Cobb breezed through his first four innings, as catcher Kevin Plawecki drawing a walk in the second inning wound up being the Mets’ only baserunner in the first four frames. The Mets cut Baltimore’s lead in half in the fifth inning when rightfielder Jay Bruce scored on a flyout by former American League East-foe José Bautista. Bruce singled to begin the inning, and moved to third on a Plawecki double. But, Cobb pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning, and left the game after throwing 99 pitches, 61 for strikes. His effort earned him his second win of the season, lifting his overall record to 2-7.

Mychal Givens pitched the seventh inning and one third of the eighth inning. He walked one and struck out two. Richard Bleier got the final two outs of the eighth inning, and Brad Brach earned his ninth save of the season despite walking Bruce with two outs.

New York starter Jason Vargas lost his fourth game of the season after winning two straight games, dropping his record to 2-4.

Game 2 (1-0 BAL): Both starters – Zack Wheeler and Dylan Bundy – cruised through seven shutout innings. Each allowed just three hits and stuck out five. Bundy led in walks over Wheeler 3-1. Bundy threw 96 pitches (62 strikes), and Wheeler tossed 93 (60 strikes).

The Orioles scored their lone and winning run in the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez, batting leadoff, singled on a ground ball thrown by relief pitcher Jeurys Familia. Craig Gentry came into the game to run for Alvarez. Mancini lined out to Bruce, but then Jones singled to left field, advancing Gentry to third base. Machado drove Gentry home on another single, this one to centerfield. The score led to Baltimore’s sweep and gave Familia his third loss of the season, lowering his record to 2-3.

Once again in the ninth inning, Brach earned his second save in 24 hours. Leadoff hitter Todd Frazier singled to begin the inning, but Brach regrouped and retired the side to end the game. Bundy received the win, raising his record to 4-7.

Up Next: The Orioles head to Toronto for their first series at the Rogers Centre of the 2018 season. The four-game series versus the Blue Jays features 7:07 pm starts on Thursday and Friday, and 1:07 pm starts on Saturday and Sunday.

Image Credit: NY Daily News

Orioles must change offensive approach to end losing ways

The Baltimore Orioles (17-41) enter the week of Jun. 4 with the worst record in the Majors. Losers of seven straight games, the 2018 season is already over. Now over two months into the season, Orioles ownership faces a cloud of uncertainty with the contracts of both general manger Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter expiring after the season. That’s not a good situation for a team like the Orioles who sit 22.5 games out of first place in the American League East.

Whether Duquette sticks around or leaves town following the 2018 season, the Orioles’ offensive approach needs to change in order for the team to find success again. Since Duquette arrived in Baltimore, the Orioles have relied on lineups full of power bats to carry the team via the long ball. From 2012-17, the Orioles finished in the top 3 in home runs, and they led the major leagues in 2013, 2014, and 2016. Also in that time span, Baltimore finished within the top 10 in strikeouts three times. So far this season, the Orioles rank fifth in strikeouts (523) and 14’th in home runs (65). They’re also 27’th in walks taken (159), 27’th in average (.230) and 29’th in both on-base percentage (OBP) (.293) & runs scored (210).

While these stats span just over two months total, it’s not hard to figure out that these numbers do not point to a successful offense. While ranking 14’th in home runs still puts the Orioles in the middle of the pack, they’re not scoring enough runs, not getting on base enough, and they’re striking out at an alarming rate.

Currently, only four regular starters in the Orioles lineup – Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, and Mark Trumbo – own OBP’s above .300. This means that over half of Baltimore’s lineup is failing to reach base in seven-of-10 at-bats. Guys like Jones and Trumbo have done all they can to carry the offense, but even they carry free-swinging power bats who will see large strikeout totals when the 2018 season comes to a close.

Easily, the biggest disappointment for the Orioles dates back to the 2016 offseason, and that’s Chris Davis. Since signing a seven-year, $161 million deal in the winter preceding the 2016 season, Davis has hit an alarming .196 with 68 home runs and 487 strikeouts. Things seem to be hitting rock-bottom this season with Davis hitting .152 with just four home runs. Davis has hit at least 21 home runs in seven of 11 seasons, but he’s on pace to finish 2018 with 12 home runs (and about 219 strikeouts).

One factor playing into the declining offensive numbers has to be age. The Orioles are a veteran-heavy team with Jones, Davis, and Trumbo all at the age of 32. Pedro Alvarez, who’s been playing fairly often in the DH spot, is 31. Jonathan Schoop and Mancini are both 26, and Machado turns 26 on Jul. 6. When Davis, Jones, and Trumbo were in their late 20’s, relying on the home run got the Orioles by. Now, a lot of these guys are well above 30 and have started to decline. None of them will admit to it, but the Orioles are a veteran team in need of a turnover that includes plenty of youth.

This should not come as a surprise, but the Red Sox (40-19), Yankees (37-17), Astros (37-23), and Braves (34-24) are the highest scorers of the 2018 season to date. Boston, Atlanta and Houston make up the top three teams in hits while the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros hold the top three spots in RBI. Meanwhile, the Rangers (25-36), Padres (26-34), Giants (28-30) and Orioles make up four of the top five teams in strikeouts this season, with third-place Philadelphia (31-25) being an exception. The stats don’t lie. Teams that hit consistently, score runs and play small ball see success more often than not. Home runs will only get you so far, and strikeouts are the killer.

The scary part about this situation is that the Orioles’ front office appears to be very naive to the issue with no real drive to change the offensive approach. Despite a plethora of designated hitter, power bat types already on the roster (in the forms of Davis, Trumbo and Alvarez), Duquette recently expressed interest in 34-year-old free agent Hanley Ramirez. Duquette has prior experience with Ramirez from his tenure with the Red Sox, but signing a 34-year-old power bat to a team that should be selling makes no sense. With a 17-41 record and a lineup full of aging, undisciplined batters, comments like these from Duquette are extremely concerning.

Another frustrating practice the Orioles implement is neglecting their farm system of international talent. In May, Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote a story highlighting Baltimore ownership’s refusal to spend money in the international market. As Badler wrote in the piece, Duquette’s input only goes so far since the decisions on talent are ultimately made by the Angelos family. The decision to not dip into the international market not only limits the scouting the Orioles can do, but the return the team gets for sending off their international pool money amounts to almost nothing.

The struggles of the 2018 Orioles must not all fall on the offense. The pitching has not been perfect either, with the starting rotation sporting a 5.43 ERA and a bullpen that’s dealt with several injuries. However, since defeating the Red Sox 7-4 on May 18, the Orioles scored three runs or fewer in 13 of their last 14 games, going 3-11 in that span. Even if Dylan Bundy or another Orioles starting pitcher delivers a quality start, the chances of the Orioles’ offense providing just three runs have not been good as of late.

With just under two months remaining before the 2018 MLB trade deadline, there’s still time for Duquette and Orioles’ ownership to make some moves to better the club beyond 2018. All aspects of the club could use some work, but the offense appears to be the biggest issue plaguing the team. The scary reality Orioles fans are faced with is that the team’s ownership has been extremely reluctant to make any sort of changes to the way they construct their team, and no recent events point to that pattern changing. The reliance on the home run worked for a few seasons, but it’s time to change the offensive approach. Until the Orioles do that, the team’s losing ways will continue indefinitely.

Image Credit: Beyond the Box Score

 

Podcast: Jake and Nolan analyze where the Orioles are, and talk Ravens as OTA’S begin

Welcome to the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and author Nolan McGraw.

With the Orioles 17.5 games back in the American League East, some decisions need to be made in the warehouse. At what percentage do Jake and Nolan think players like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach could be moved? The guys also ponder what to do with Chris Davis, and look ahead to this week’s series against the White Sox.

On Monday, Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) begin for the Ravens in Owings Mills. The CCBW duo go over the biggest storylines surrounding the Ravens at this point in the offseason, including the relationship between Joe Flacco & Lamar Jackson, the retooled receiving core, the position battles along the offensive line, and the impact of concession price reductions at M&T Bank Stadium.

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