Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Jones' spark; beating the East; Wright's inning; opting-out decisions - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Jones’ spark; beating the East; Wright’s inning; opting-out decisions

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones sort of blew off the obvious angle after Wednesday’s 10-4 win against the New York Yankees, saying he tries to bring energy to his team every day.

And, to an extent, that’s true.

But the Orioles have been struggling, Jones had missed four games with hip and ankle injuries and they definitely needed a boost in order to win another series against the division rival Yankees.

And Jones provided it, driving in five runs on three hits: a RBI double, a three-run homer and a RBI single that served as his 1,500th hit in an Orioles uniform.

“The last three weeks haven’t been too fun. But it was a good series win,” Jones said. “Glad I was able to come back out there, add some more energy, and the guys followed suit. So, good series win.”

Jones is not one to take days off. He hates being on the bench. But he turns 32 in August, and he’s constantly beating up his body in an attempt to make plays.

He understands that he could use some time here and there. It’s something Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wants to do more of in 2017, but really hadn’t until the injuries forced his hand. On Tuesday, Jones could have played, but Showalter kept him out of the lineup because it was rainy and the outfield was slick and the manager didn’t want to risk a setback for his star center fielder.

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So, Jones had four games off and returns with three hits and five RBIs. Can’t imagine that’s a coincidence. For a guy in his 30s, the occasional respite isn’t a bad thing.

“I believe it does (help),” he said. “A rest here and there is good.”

Beating the East, the Yankees

For all the complaining about how the Orioles are spiraling downward and how they are flawed in nearly every aspect of the game – except defense – it’s probably worth pointing this out:

The Orioles took two of three from the first-place New York Yankees this week – the 11th straight series the Orioles have captured against them at Camden Yards. The streak goes back to September 2013.

“We’ve gotten better as a franchise over the last four years,” Jones said. “We’ve gotten better against them the last four years and we’ve been a pretty good team over the last five years. Sixth this year.”

The Orioles are an impressive 19-11 against the AL East this season.

They are 8-13 against everybody else and finish May with a disappointing 12-16 record, but why pick nits?

Seriously, it’s more important to beat on the other teams in your division for obvious reasons. And, given that the Yankees appear to be a formidable opponent that may not go away, winning two of three has some significance.

The Orioles are now 5-4 in the first nine games between the teams this year with 10 more to play — three at home and seven at Yankee Stadium.

It may not matter, but last year Toronto and the Orioles tied with identical overall records. The Blue Jays, though, held the tiebreaker because they won the head-to-head series. So, they hosted the one-game AL Wild Card contest. And you know how that ended up.

The Orioles, incidentally, are now 17-8 at home and 10-16 on the road.

Mike Wright’s one-inning stint

I’ve been suggesting it for years. And I’m just one in a long line of people that have been saying it: Mike Wright’s career could really take off as a reliever.

He has a big arm. He can dominate in short stretches. And he’s had trouble getting through lineups multiple times in the big leagues.

With the Orioles up 10-4 in the ninth, Wright came in for one inning of work in his season debut. He allowed a two-out double to Aaron Judge, but otherwise had a clean inning with two strikeouts, including fanning Chase Headley to end the game.

Obviously, if you can find good starting pitchers, you give them every opportunity to flourish. That makes sense. But if it isn’t working out, maybe you look to another avenue.

“That’s always been in everybody’s mind, including mine, that if it didn’t work out, that is where we felt like he could fall, but because of the premium and the need, we ask everybody to go down the starting role first,” Showalter said. “That was pretty good tonight. I got a text from one of our scouts that reminds me of (Wright as a reliever) all the time. As soon as the game ended, I looked at my phone.”

Decision time on Alvarez, Jackson?

Two veterans at Triple-A Norfolk, designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and right-hander Edwin Jackson, can opt out of their minor league contracts Wednesday.

Alvarez is expected to opt-out, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Jackson did, too.

The Orioles would have 48 hours to add them to the 25-man roster. If not, they would become free agents.

Both are sticky situations.

Alvarez, 30, has hit just .223 in 52 games for the Tides and his transition to the outfield didn’t go smoothly. But he has 12 homers, including six in his last 10 games, a period in which he has hit .326 and drove in 13 runs.

There’s no obvious spot for him on the Orioles, though, given his defensive limitations and his lefty bat. The Orioles would like to keep him as insurance in the minors, but may have to allow him to test the market. And Alvarez may only get looks from American League clubs, so I’s possible he could stay in the organization.

To make room for Alvarez in the big leagues, the Orioles would have to send down Joey Rickard, DFA or trade Hyun Soo Kim or DFA Paul Janish, leaving them without a utility infielder. None of those three scenarios is palatable.

As for the 33-year-old Jackson, he could fill the much-needed long relief role that Vance Worley held last year. But the Orioles have used that spot to bring fresh arms back and forth from Norfolk.

Jackson, who has a 3.26 ERA in 11 games for the Tides, is without options. So, once he is promoted, he either stays in Baltimore or is placed on waivers before he can be sent down.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. OsFanStuckInNY

    June 1, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Another astute article, thanks!
    I do wonder about one thing, though: the defense has not been its usual standard this year. Flashes of brilliance, for sure, but… Davis has made some gaffes. Schoop has 6 errors and looked bad several times. Hardy has gone through a funky spell. Machado has his occasional errant throws and has also looked like he lost focus more than usual. Rickard in center has been very weak. Jones in center seems to be doing well starting deeper but maybe lost a step or two anyway. Mancini is an admirable work in progress but has had to let several catchable balls drop in due to inexperience and/or slow read (to be expected, I’m sure it will continue to improve), the other corner outfielders appear to be doing about what they’ve done in the past.

    The stats back up the subpar year, don’t they? Are they around the middle of the pack thus far?

    Here’s hoping for a replay of last June!

    • OsFanStuckInNY

      June 1, 2017 at 6:12 am

      Oh — and Castillo/Joseph have played better than expected thus far, in my opinion.
      Any observations on Castillo’s framing, blocking, throwing, and game-calling?

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 1, 2017 at 7:22 am

        I have an observation on Castillo’s framing, blocking, throwing and game calling ….. he’s not Matt Wieters.

    • Paul Folkemer

      June 1, 2017 at 9:27 am

      If you put any stock in advanced defensive statistics, the Orioles don’t rate well this year. They’re 11th in the AL in defensive runs saved (-4), according to FanGraphs. Of course, that’s only a two-month sample size, and defensive metrics can be especially unreliable in such a small sample.

      But just based on the eye test, I agree that the Orioles’ defense hasn’t been on the same level as previous years. I think Machado, Davis, and Jones have been above average, and Hardy has been solid (if a step slower), but Schoop has struggled with his range and the corner outfield spots are still a question mark from game to game.

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