Myriad O's Thoughts: Domino effect of Bleier's injury; no urgency with Rasmus; chasing the franchise's worst - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s Thoughts: Domino effect of Bleier’s injury; no urgency with Rasmus; chasing the franchise’s worst

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Reliever Richard Bleier has often been an afterthought – in his career and, for a while, with the Orioles.

He’s a lefty specialist, a guy who didn’t throw hard, but somehow got outs consistently.

The New York Yankees traded him to the Orioles in February 2017 despite Bleier’s good numbers in 2016 (1.96 ERA in 23 innings).

And in 2017, Bleier posted a 1.99 ERA in 57 games for the Orioles, but still was concerned about making the team this spring.

You can make the argument that Bleier, who is now used in any situation by manager Buck Showalter, could be the Orioles’ most valuable pitcher so far.

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He leads the team in appearances with 31 and has another tidy ERA, 1.93.

But now a chunk of his season could be in doubt after he left Wednesday’s game with a lat injury.

We’ll know more about the severity in the coming days, but losing Bleier for an extended period of time is a tough blow for several reasons.

One, Bleier isn’t just a lefty specialist. But the guys who may have to replace him – Tanner Scott and/or Donnie Hart – are. Or they are at least much better versus lefties than righties so far in their careers.

If Showalter has to play more batter-by-batter matchups, that’s going to put a real strain on how Showalter juggles his bullpen.

And even though Darren O’Day and Zach Britton are back, the roles are still jumbled while Britton shakes off the rust and Mychal Givens attempts to regain his consistency.

Bleier didn’t get a lot of fanfare, but he really helped stabilize a normally rock-solid bunch that has uncharacteristically struggled. His presence made it easier for Showalter to pick his spots for others. And, let’s face it, how some of these guys do in the next few weeks – pending free agents Britton and Brad Brach in particular – reaches much further than a few extra wins in a lost season.

Rasmus update, sort of

Showalter was asked Wednesday afternoon about outfielder Colby Rasmus, who is rehabbing his injured hip at High-A Frederick. The Keys had a doubleheader Tuesday and Rasmus had just two at-bats total.

There’s been no injury setback, Showalter said. Rasmus has been determining how much he plays as he tries to make it back to the majors. And he decided to play part of one game.

“I’m pretty sure he’s kind of setting his own schedule from what I understand. Just one game (of the doubleheader), I don’t know the particulars of it,” Showalter said. “Until we get closer to his date coming up (his rehab should end after 20 days, which would be June 20th), I’ll pay a lot more (attention) … find out the whys.”

If that strikes you as a weird response, well, it is. To me, it’s telling.

Rasmus has had five hits (.167 average), two walks and nine strikeouts in his first 30 at-bats in his rehab assignment at Frederick and Double-A Bowie. He had two hits in 21 at-bats (and 13 strikeouts) with the Orioles before he hit the DL.

There really doesn’t seem to be much of a place for the 31-year-old Rasmus with the Orioles, and you can glean that from Showalter’s relaxed attitude about Rasmus’ rehab. But the club is paying Rasmus $3 million this year, so he likely will be back at some point.

There doesn’t seem to be a rush to make that happen, though.

Beckham to Bowie; Hays still hurting

In contrast to the Rasmus nonchalance was Showalter’s specific info on infielder Tim Beckham, who is headed to Bowie on Friday to begin a rehab assignment after undergoing core muscle surgery in late April.

Beckham can come off the 60-day DL on June 23, and Showalter is hopeful that will happen. Showalter is also hopeful that the groin issues that led to the surgery will now be completely fixed and won’t be a reoccurring problem.

Not as good news on outfield prospect Austin Hays, who is on the disabled list at Double-A Bowie due to an ankle injury. Showalter said doctors recommended that Hays’ foot remain in a boot for two more weeks. So, don’t expect Hays, who has hit just .224 at Bowie when healthy, to be coming to Baltimore anytime soon.

Still not the worst — yet

By dropping their seventh straight Wednesday, the Orioles fell to 19-48 through 67 games.

No adjectives left to illustrate how awful that is.

But it isn’t quite historic – in a franchise-sense. The 1988 and 2010 Orioles were both 18-49 through 67 games. So, these Orioles aren’t the franchise’s worst at this point. There is still a chance, though. They are within losing distance.

Regardless, the Orioles have made up a lot of ground on that 1988 club, which dropped 21 consecutive to begin the season and ended with a franchise-worst 107 losses.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. deqalt

    June 14, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Can we hope the Orioles will just drop Rasmus once he is healthy. Zero reason for him to ever comeback.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 14, 2018 at 10:25 am

      I would imagine when he is ready they will bring him up and see what he can do. $3 million for two weeks doesn’t seem like a prudent investment. I’ll assume they’ll try to get something out of that contract. And if it’s more of the same then release him.

  2. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    June 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Bleier was having a career season worthy of an All Star selection. He pitched great out of the pen. This news is typical of how awful things have been for the Orioles.

  3. Dblack2508

    June 14, 2018 at 8:22 am

    A terrible signing from the beginning, John Jay would have been a much better option and another trade piece.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 14, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Preaching to the choir.

  4. bigdaddydk

    June 14, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Ever feel like watching this team is like watching an accident in slow motion? It’s like the losses are the various impacts on the body and the wins are the few pieces of glass that don’t leave marks. This team has become nearly unwatchable, which says a lot for me because I usually think that bad baseball is better than no baseball.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 14, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Even the non-blowouts aren’t particularly entertaining. Tuesday’s 6-4 loss was paint drying.

  5. Orial

    June 14, 2018 at 8:30 am

    A shame about Blieir. Just adds to the dismal air hanging over everything. Can’t believe that Rasmus is still being discussed. Kind of a testimony of the farm system’s short comings. Rasmus is a “poor man’s” Chris Davis. At least Davis cares(I think).

    • Dan Connolly

      June 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

      I think it’s more of a testament that they paid him so they’ll try to get some production out of him.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 14, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Is Ubaldo still available?

    • Dan Connolly

      June 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

      He is. Which actually does surprise me. Jokes aside.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    June 14, 2018 at 9:49 am

    So I’m watching the Nats-Yankees game last night with my 2 year old and I began pondering; maybe I should raise him to be a Nats fan? I’ll be honest, I am as ‘bleed orange” an O’s fan as you will find, but it’s really just an accident of geography that I became an Oriole fan. Had I been born in perhaps Georgia, I would have been a hardcore Braves fan. And what has it got me? A couple playoff appearances and schmaltzy videos of Cal Ripken high fiving everyone one night in 1995. Washington does what it takes to build a winner, while Baltimore comes up with every excuse in the book why they can’t. Even during the last few years of being “competitive” (whoopedy goddamn doo) it was always the “plucky little Orioles” outperforming expectations. It sucks. Why can’t I watch superstars? Why can’t I see Mad Max mowing them down? Why can’t I talk about why Bryce might come back? I’m stuck hoping Bud Norris can at least be above average, that we can trade our homegrown star for a bunch of 19 year olds who might be good in 2022, knowing I may end up one of those sad assed old guys they interviewed before the Cubs World Series talking about how they waited 92 years for this. So, while I would never forsake my team, my fathers team and his fathers team, do I really want to subject my kid to this bulls**t?

    • chico salmon

      June 14, 2018 at 10:06 am

      We had a window (2012-2016) and the window closed. Had it not been for the loss of Machado, Davis, and Weiters on that 2014 team, we could have beat the Royals. We lost four straight by a total of seven runs. Now we tear it down and set goals for a new window. With the right people, and the right vision, it can be done. The great concern for us all, is the wrong people with the wrong vision. The trend is for younger GMs and managers. Go there. Say goodbye to DD, Buck, Anderson. Many thanks for a job well done. Buck and DD did a great job, but all good things must end.

      • Bancells Moustache

        June 14, 2018 at 11:17 am

        We had a window, but we had a brick wall from 1984 to 1995, then again from 1998 to 2011. The ’89 team was an outlier who came out of nowhere then disappeared again, and whoever emerged from the East that year was cannon fodder for the Oakland A’s anyhow. Throw in the fact that 2 of the 3 recent playoff appearances were due to MLB adding the bonus “play-in game” strictly for TV ratings purposes. So, in 34 years the Orioles have been a bona-fide contender a whopping 3 times. 1996, 1997 and 2014. That is the definition of suckiness.

        • kaj21206

          June 14, 2018 at 1:22 pm

          One correction. The Orioles had the same record as the Rangers in 2012 & Jays in 2016. We lost home field due to head to head. There would have been a play in game in either year before the second wild card.

        • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

          June 14, 2018 at 4:04 pm

          I truly dislike this one-game playoff BS. I really hate that the Orioles organization was given the gift of saying “we made the playoffs 3 out of 5 years” because of this one-game nonsense. I will never consider it a playoff game. It’s a play-in game. The Orioles made the playoffs on 2012 and 2014. They missed the real playoffs in 2016 because they lost the play-in game. That’s how I see it regardless of this shameless cash grab MLB has instituted.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 14, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Just for pure argument’s sake, the Orioles have gone further in the playoffs in recent years than the Nats. FWIW.

    • Bancells Moustache

      June 14, 2018 at 10:34 am

      And I don’t want to hear this “you ain’t a real fan” crap either. This is the only form of entertainment where you are castigated for shopping for a better product. If your favorite Heavy Metal band has only put out crappy polka albums for 30 years, no one calls you a turncoat for not lining up and handing them your money. No one says you’re a fair weather Al Pacino fan for liking The Godfather” and “Serpico” but thinking “Devils Advocate” was kinda stupid.

    • Raymo

      June 14, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Man, I detest the Nats for all the Oriole reasons. But I can’t argue with you. Little BanMo may have many more happy moments in life as a DC fan.

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      June 14, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      I am 100% in your camp — I’m so in your camp, I’m building condos and selling them.

      And your point about the loyal fans of heavy metal polka bands is spot-on in my estimation. The Orioles seem to me, as an outsider, to treat the fans with an slight air of…contempt? Is that the word I’m looking for? They seem to brush aside fan concerns like a truck driver brushing off a little kid — “I got this, kid” — as he skids into a tree. The Orioles should be immensely thankful for the fans that are even left after the last 25 years of mostly pathetic baseball, constant poor-mouthing, terrible management decisions, and generally ignoring the very things that resonated with many of the fans.

      Perhaps, just let your son choose his own allegiance. If the game resonates with him, he’ll gravitate toward a team, and forge his memories that way.

      I’m a victim of that same geographic coincidence that ensured I would be a fan of the O’s. Sadly, the idea of being an Oriole fan is better than the reality — and has been for quite a while now under the Angelos dictatorship.

      I really enjoyed 2012 — mainly because the team was refreshing, and appeared to be on the right path. 2014 was THE YEAR that got away. Since the utter and absolute failure of the 2014-2015 offseason as we watched them effectively do nothing — I’ve been more and more turned off.

      I’m too darned old to wait another ten years for a lucky rebuild. And I have zero confidence a team with a lame duck GM, lame duck manager, stubborn meddling owner, rich-kid sons, and Brady-the-suckup will be able to navigate the rebuild process effectively.

      I’m tired of the polka records, and all I hear in the distance is the sound of approaching accordions.

  8. Booged and Powelled

    June 14, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Ive been an Oriole fan for awhile and have been spoiled since 1969 .,.weve had great stretches and mixed with bad ones. How we lost to the pirates in 79 just kills me still and when we beat the Phillies in 83 i was on a long deployment and because email and the internet were ins it infancy I didnt find out until december15th or so.

    Point is we have a great history better than most teams since we do win the WS occasionally …this sucks and feels like the bottom but it will get better it always does.

    we lost Don Baylor for a Reggie one year rental and it set us back but then we fleeced the Expos for Ken Singleton and the astros for Lee May (Cabell) and ultimately a 10 player deal withe Yanks set us up for a WS run later Mcgregor , Tippy etc,,,Once Eddie Murray was called up to augment our elite pitching the next year we were golden.

    it will happen again and again no matter who the owner or GM is ..history is a long time

    • Dan Connolly

      June 14, 2018 at 10:31 am

      Good point. And can you imagine what would have happened to the East if Reggie had stayed in Balmer after 76?

  9. Birdman

    June 14, 2018 at 11:20 am

    DD, Buck, and Anderson are all fair game for criticism, but ultimate blame for the long term dysfunction of this franchise comes back to the ownership of Peter Angelos.

    Hard to remember now, but in the mid-90s, the O’s were positioned as one of the premier franchises in MLB – attendance was 3.5 million per year, and the team had a first rate GM, Pat Gillick, and manager, Davey Johnson (as well as an all-time great broadcaster, Jon Miller). In short order, Angelos ran Gillick, Johnson, and Miller out of town, and we all know the rest of the story, just 4 seasons of over .500 baseball in the next 21 years.

    • Raymo

      June 14, 2018 at 11:25 am

      I still miss Jon Miller. No one was better at painting the scene on radio. And no O’s broadcaster since then comes close to his talent.

    • chico salmon

      June 14, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Joe Angel is very good, and has a great sense of humor. He was once Miller’s partner. I like Ben McDonald and Brian Roberts. They add a lot to the broadcast. Manfra was awful the past few years (good riddance to “the New Yorkers”), and multi-hit/multi-rbi/multi-extra base hit/ man, Hunter, simply cannot be listened to.

    • Bancells Moustache

      June 14, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      To be fair, the attendance figures were that high when there was no Washington franchise, the stadium was a brand new wonder of the world and one of the most beloved figures in franchise history was chasing an unbreakable record. But you are right, the seventh angel sounded his trumpet and Peter Angelos was inflicted upon the land. As I said before, he is too poor to run a 21st century baseball franchise. Fair or not, the economics of professional sports dictates that unless your net worth starts with a B, you shouldn’t be in the business.

  10. Baltimos687

    June 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    You can expand that lack of urgency to the entire organization. I feel like outside of minor league shuffling, the only move that has been made was to DFA Nestor Cortes. This team is 45 games below .500 since 2017. No firings, DFA’s, little minor league promotion. It’s a complete embarrassment of a franchise once again after briefly reclaiming some sort of pride (2012-2016).

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      June 14, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Agree. The winning seasons of 2012, 2014, and (slightly) 2016 served to mask the still deep-seeded dysfunction of the organization. The winning has melted away, and there beneath the surface appears the rotten core that has existed for several decades now.

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