Tap-In Question: Who's the most indispensable 2017 Oriole - the toughest player to replace? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Tap-In Question: Who’s the most indispensable 2017 Oriole — the toughest player to replace?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Welcome to the Tap Room. The theme in this joint today is getting away – whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Umbrellas and fruit pieces in your beer are optional.

I’m going on a family beach vacation for a week – something I try to give my family once a year during the summer. They deserve it after dealing with me and my baseball job/obsession all year round. Unfortunately, I also had to take a little more time away from the ballpark in the past week to deal with a family situation.

All is OK, just one of life’s crappy curveballs. Luckily there are some tremendous people bringing you great content at BaltimoreBaseball.com on a daily basis, so, even if I’m not writing or if I’m trying to sneak away for a week, we’ll still have plenty of stuff for you to peruse here. And I’m never really gone anyway (which sounds kind of sinister).

Much of this upcoming week on the site will have a draft flair. Our minor-league guru, Dean Jones Jr., gets giddy this time of year. I mean it, seriously giddy. It’s kind of odd — in a good way.

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The draft starts Monday at 7 p.m. and lasts for parts of three days, finishing Wednesday, when the final pick of the 40th round is selected.

Dean will give you a sense of local guys that might be drafted, and he’ll keep tabs on the Orioles’ selections (they have three picks in the first two rounds on Monday, 21st, 60th and 74th. It’s impossible to predict who they’ll take that deep, but collegiate pitchers and shortstops are obvious targets).

The thing about the baseball draft is you likely won’t see any of the picks helping a major league team immediately. Ben McDonald in 1989 was the last Oriole to appear in the majors the same season he was drafted. He is the last No. 1 overall pick to do that in all of MLB. (Before you look it up, David Price was drafted first overall in 2007 and debuted in 2008).

So, yeah, the Orioles have to win with what they have this year (barring July and August trades) without help from the June draft.

There were some worries Wednesday that they’d be without one of their most important players, third baseman Manny Machado, who was spiked in the left hand and is dealing with a left wrist strain that kept him out of the starting lineup Thursday.

The Orioles felt like they dodged a bullet with Machado, after X-Rays were negative and a MRI showed only a strain. So, he’s day-to-day.

It’s funny, the Orioles have actually done OK in the past with Machado temporarily out of the lineup. But you can make the argument, especially with how he plays defense, that Machado is the most indispensable Oriole.

Then again, after the ripple effect in the bullpen caused by closer Zach Britton’s prolonged absence, you can make the case that he is the most difficult current Oriole to replace. Although when center fielder Adam Jones is out (like Thursday, when he was dealing with sore legs), there certainly seems to be a spark missing.

In the past, the Orioles’ win-loss record has dipped when shortstop and defensive glue J.J. Hardy is on the shelf. And you have to wonder where this 2017 team would be if right-hander Dylan Bundy wasn’t pitching every fifth day or if rookie Trey Mancini didn’t float down from another galaxy.

So, there you go. Lots of choices for our ‘Wanna get away?’ theme today (if you know anyone from Southwest Airlines that’s looking to sponsor a blog, let the bartender know ASAP).

I’m curious as to whom you think is the most indispensable 2017 Oriole. Yes, I know it is a team sport, but some players are simply harder to replace than others.

I’m not talking long-term — that the Orioles may go into the tank in 2019 without Machado or Jones or Britton. I’m not even talking about who is the best Oriole.

I’m asking, who is the guy whose absence would make the most negative impact on the Orioles right now?

Tap-In Question: Who is the most indispensable 2017 Oriole? Why?

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. claudecat

    June 9, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Adam Jones, hands down. Without looking it up, I’m guessing that the O’s haven’t won a game when he’s been out of the lineup. He’s the one guy that inspires others, leads by example (even if others choose not to follow, i.e. Manny’s lack of hustle), and does everything right. The best team leader in all of sports, and a valuable asset to the Baltimore community as well..

    • Dan Connolly

      June 9, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Claude: I’m really curious as to whether all what you mentioned make the Orioles push for an extension. Or if they let him walk in his 30s like Markakis.

      • claudecat

        June 9, 2017 at 10:19 am

        It seems like the kind of move the O’s make, along the lines of the Davis or O’Day deals. Nick was a fan favorite in his somber and quiet way, but Adam’s been an important a part of the team’s resurgence, maybe the keystone player. That’s gotta count for something, as does his eloquent outspokenness on behalf of a community that desperately needs role models like him. The baseball side of my mind knows that an extension could be unwise in terms of dollars spent per WAR point. The rest of my brain sludge wants Adam Jones to be an Oriole for life, and hopes he beats the odds and gets to 3,000 hits at age 42 or so. The guy deserves a statue someday.

    • Jonathan

      June 9, 2017 at 9:43 am

      100% agree. He’s the best leader the Orioles have had since Frank Robinson.

    • Paul Folkemer

      June 9, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Close enough– the Orioles are 1-5 without Jones in the lineup this year. He definitely seems to bring an energy that the team feeds off of.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 9, 2017 at 8:01 am

    After watching Asher get smoked last night my first thought was Ubaldo Jimenez.

    But seriously, and will all due respect to our MVP Mr. Jones, the hardest to replace in my senile mind would be DYLAN BUNDY.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 9, 2017 at 9:27 am

      It’s crazy that’s an answer here in June. But I might second it.

  3. bigdaddydk

    June 9, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Ubaldo. Watching everyone struggle in his spot makes me think that it must be the most difficult job on the planet.

    Overall, I’d say the toughest to replace, in reality, is Zach Britton. The impact he has on the entire makeup of the bullpen displays his value in all of its glory. There’s something comforting about knowing that the 9th inning is ours, and having lost a handful of games late because of bullpen meltdowns, I’m more convinced that Britton’s presence is of paramount importance for the team to make a serious post-season run.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 9, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Pitching the ninth inning in my mind is a different animal. Tho there is statistical information that proves otherwise.

      • bigdaddydk

        June 9, 2017 at 9:48 am

        It’s not just that Britton is so cool in the 9th. It’s what his presence does to the rest of the bullpen. He takes the pressure off of O’Day, Brach, and Givens. Having Britton shortens games to 5 innings for the opposing offenses. It’s almost like getting 9 more outs than the opponent when those three are on. Plus, with Wright showing some chops recently, I see the bullpen as getting a lot stronger with Britton back and 100%. Consider that Brach has been a fair substitute for Britton, more recently in particular, and O’Day and Givens have been better over the last couple of weeks. But who is filling in during the 6th inning now, or during other innings when these guys have pitched a couple of days in a row? It’s Bleier, Jackson, or *shudder* Jimenez, or *insert random Norfolk arm here* when the bullpen has been exhausted. I see a bullpen that could really come together and potentially make games 5 innings long for the opponent with Wright, Givens, O’Day, Brach, and Britton each pitching an inning, with Hart serving as a LOOGY for now. Givens, O’Day, and Wright can also pitch for more than one inning to rest someone else, and Brach can close to spell Britton, and vice versa. I see Britton as worth three outs every time he pitches.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          June 9, 2017 at 9:54 am

          Big Daddy .. after reading that analysis, I have a new found respect . Well done.

          • bigdaddydk

            June 9, 2017 at 10:24 am

            For me or Zach? LOL.

            I hope I’m right when Britton returns. I think about how the Royals used their bullpen the year they swept us out of the ALCS and they effectively shortened the game. With our rotation the way it is, getting 5 innings and handing it over to the bullpen may be how we have to go, with a start or two beyond that from Bundy and someone else (Miley, Gausman, Asher???) to give them the occasional rest. If someone blows up early, Jimenez, Jackson, Bleier, or a Norfolk Shuttle arm can be sacrificial, and if we get a good outing that lets us mount a comeback, we have to take that as a bonus.

            I’m just not sure how this team lasts deep into September without stellar bullpen production, and I think when he returns Britton is key to that.

  4. Creatively_19

    June 9, 2017 at 8:32 am

    My vote is for Dylan Bundy. We’d be at or below .500 right now if it wasn’t for him carrying the rotation on his back.

    Enjoy your vacation with your family, Dan!

    • Dan Connolly

      June 9, 2017 at 9:29 am

      I’m with ya 19. And thanks. And like I said we’ll still have lots of stuff here. I promise.

  5. GSISDANNO

    June 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

    This is tough. I would probably say Jones because of his leadership. At the start of the season, I would have said Machado. But he has been horrible offensively. One good thing is that the Yankees aren’t going to sign a .215 hitter. Machado is lucky he plays here. In New York, they would be booing him to New Jersey.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 9, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Warning Danno … careful about what you say about Manny around here. They’ll tear you up.

  6. Winger

    June 9, 2017 at 10:00 am

    I worried about Britton Could be worse than we know. If that’s the case we have Brach n O’Day to fill that role. If that’s the case I split my vote between the two of them.

  7. HOF19

    June 9, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Super easy question to answer…..Not debatable….Its Zach Britton !

    • LenSakata

      June 9, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Agreed. Britton. Look at the teams record before he hit the DL and after.

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