Friday, July 13, 2012

Another New Card and Some Thoughts on The Orioles

Look at this.  Two posts in two days.  It's almost like I'm unemployed again! (Don't worry, Mom, I'm still gainfully employed. I just had a day off and managed to wake up before noon).

As you can see by the image above I stepped outside of my 2012 collecting goals once again and picked up a card that was neither a part of a set I'm building or a part of a personal collection.  At least it's a card from one of the teams I support (and it had free shipping!)

I guess for some collectors this is one of those cards that drive them nuts when the break high-end product like Bowman Sterling.  A plain white and gray piece of jersey from a team that has a valued history but isn't exactly a "hot" collector's item. Which is awesome for an O's fan like myself.

Adam Jones is having himself a fine year and will most likely lock up his second consecutive "Most Valuable Oriole" award by the the time the season is through. He's cooled off a bit recently, but is still likely to post career highs in home runs, on-base,slugging and steals.  The promise he showed as a young prospect is starting to blossom, and while the debate rages on if he's actually a defensive liability or asset he's showing that the money the O's invested in him might just be worth it.

Mr. Britton on the other hand has not had a great 2012 so far.  An injury in Spring Training to his throwing shoulder lingered on slightly longer than the team anticipated despite some radical new therapy from noted surgeon to the stars Dr. James Andrews. What was once thought to be a six-week rehab process has now moved into month four, but the good news is that he's pitching again (with mixed results) and might be in line to make his first start for the O's next week.

That can't come soon enough for Baltimore fans.  To be honest, the season didn't start with high hopes, but a strong April and May had the Birds in contention for the first half of the season.  Dismal play by the Red Sox and a hellacious run of injuries for the Rays and the Blue Jays have allowed the O's to stay in the playoff hunt despite having a fundamentally flawed team.

I want them to succeed, I really do, but by the same token I have to be realistic.  This team is not built to win in the playoffs.  They make too many errors (75 in 85 games), their hitting is streaky at best and their starting pitching is a mess (Hamel and Chen Then Give Up Ten should be their motto). Injuries have played a minor role as well as Britton, Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts have all missed significant time.

Yet despite all that, if the season ended today they would be battling for the playoffs as part of the extended Wild Card scheme.  How is that possible?  Well they might not have pitching and defense, but they do have the three-run homerun.  That and a decent bullpen. They have been getting a phenomenal performance from their relievers, especially when games are close and in the late innings. Heck MLB has them as the best team in that situation. So they got that going for them.

So with the success so far it makes sense that they go all in and make a big trade before the deadline because who knows when this will happen again, right?

The Orioles don't have the type of farm system where they can risk trading a few prospects for Zach Greinke or whatever other pitcher is out there on the market.  That's what they did in the past and it killed them as an organization.  Dan Duquette is better off letting this season play out and letting the kids develop so that the team is good for the future as well as the present.

Diamond Dan has already come out on record saying he won't trade Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado for a rental player like Greinke.  He did stop short of saying that Bundy and Machado are untouchable, but one would have to imagine that it would take a Godfather deal to move either one of those kids.

However, lower-tier prospects like Jonathan Schoop and Parker Bridwell should be valued by the organization just as much.  Schoop especially since it looks like Brian Roberts can't put on a shirt without straining something these days. (For the record I love Roberts as a player and think he's a future O's hall-of-famer, but as I e-mailed Strums earlier this week - if he was a race horse they would have shot him by now).

Unless the Duquette finds a way to improve the defense, finds two starting pitchers who can go six innings without giving up seven runs and finds a leadoff hitter who can take a walk it's not worth blowing up the farm system.

Sometimes being competitive is good enough.  That's the stage the O's are in right now.  Get to the end of the season with a .500 record, play some meaningful games in August and then spend the next off-season building a team that can truly compete in the AL East.

If they make a decent run this year then maybe some of Peter Angelos' money will start to become attractive to free agents.  That way the O's can keep their prospects and sign a real-life starting pitcher.  The best of both worlds!

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