We get so wrapped up in the non-waiver trade deadline, who may stay and who may go, that I think we forget that the names that are bandied about are actually people. With lives, with families.
Orioles relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton were two of the Orioles’ most coveted commodities. They were rumored to be leaving Baltimore for several weeks now.
And then they stayed. The 4 p.m. deadline passed and they were still here.
It couldn’t have been a much weirder feeling.
“Yeah, 4:05, it was kind of like you are waiting for something to happen and it doesn’t, it’s not like you’re let down, because obviously I like being here,” Brach said. “It’s just kind of one of those things you were expecting something to happen and it didn’t. 4:05 it was kind of like, ‘OK two more months of baseball to go.’”
Brach has been traded before, back in November 2013, from the San Diego Padres to the Orioles. But that was different. He was struggling to make it in the majors then. Now, he’s a big part of this team. He and his wife have become part of the community. They are expecting their first child this offseason. That’s major stress for anyone.
And then, for the past two weeks, he’s had no idea where he’d be playing in August.
“No fun. Especially when nobody is like really telling you anything and you can see that other people are finding out information. It hasn’t been a very fun two weeks,” he said. “I like being here. I think we have a good team. It wasn’t fun, but I’m glad it is over, really glad it’s over. Just looking forward to the next two months.”
The worst part, he said, was not getting any information from anyone, while so many people are talking about his fate.
“I didn’t hear anything from anybody. I don’t think it’s right how they keep you in the dark, especially if your names are circulating for two weeks like that,” Brach said. “It’s not really in my control.”
Britton was in the same situation – his trade rumors were rampant by Monday.
“Just tried to treat it like a normal day. Understood there was stuff flying around, but I’ve been around long enough to know that stuff doesn’t always happen just because someone says it might,” he said. “So, I just took it in stride.”
But he admitted it can be an anxious time for all involved. And he was happy to finally get on the mound knowing he’ll be an Oriole for the rest of the 2017 season (neither he nor Brach will be able to pass through revocable waivers unclaimed).
“Just before the game started, just being in the clubhouse, the focus was just solely on helping the team win and not having to get texts from family members or my agent saying this or that is going on,” Britton said. “It was just kind of normal, how it should be, just focusing on this team win.”
Could Schoop, not Beckham, be the SS of the future?
With the Orioles acquisition of 27-year-old infielder Tim Beckham from the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, the obvious assumption is that the club has an alternative to Ruben Tejada at shortstop now and a potential long-time replacement for the injured J.J. Hardy.
And that may end up being the case.
But let’s not dismiss the possibility that the Orioles’ shortstop for the next couple years could be … Jonathan Schoop.
Schoop has been solid in his time at short whenever Orioles manager Buck Showalter wants to get Johnny Giavotella’s bat in the lineup. Defensively, Giavotella is basically limited to second base. Tejada has been primarily a shortstop in his career, however, so when he plays, Schoop remains at second, the starting spot he has held since 2014.
Beckham, the No. 1 overall pick in 2008, has started twice as many games at shortstop than at second in his four-season, big league career. So, we’re all penciling him in at short for the Orioles. But several talent evaluators have told me that Beckham is clearly better at second than short. That’s what he played while he was in Baltimore earlier in July (the Rays’ acquisition of defensive whiz Adeiny Hechavarria pushed Beckham off short and, ultimately, out of the Rays’ plans).
So, it’ll be interesting to see if the Orioles leave Schoop at second or if they think it’s worth handing him shortstop while letting Beckham play what seems to be his best position.
If the Orioles quickly evaluate that Beckham is better at second, maybe Hardy’s replacement at shortstop in 2018 might end up being Hardy’s double-play partner for the past three-plus seasons.
Trumbo to the DL; no Kim to fill in
It figures that Mark Trumbo would get hurt shortly after the Orioles traded Hyun Soo Kim to the Philadelphia Phillies. That’s baseball luck.
Kim was buried on the depth chart, partially because rookie Trey Mancini had claimed an everyday spot and Trumbo, obviously, already had one locked up. So, Kim was dealt Friday night to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of the package for veteran right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.
It made sense, because Kim wasn’t playing, and wasn’t hitting in his limited opportunities.
On Sunday, though, Trumbo was scratched from the starting lineup with what was initially thought to be a back injury. It’s actually a right, rib-cage strain, and on Monday night Trumbo was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday.
Trumbo is scheduled for a MRI Tuesday afternoon, and Showalter is hoping Trumbo will be back as soon as he is eligible to come off the DL.
“It felt like it was going to be four or five days before he could test it, and then feel comfortable about him doing it, so you’re talking about six or seven (days) there, then a couple days, so it’s 10,” Showalter said. “I’m hoping it’s eight more days, but those things are so unpredictable, it’s hard to tell.”
Craig Gentry has started both games with Trumbo shelved, and though he’s better defensively than Kim, you wonder if Gentry’s fine glovework can keep him in the lineup if he doesn’t hit. Last night, Gentry was 0-for-3 and didn’t get a ball out of the infield (including running into his own bunt), before delivering the game-winning RBI single.
So, at least Monday night, not having Trumbo or Kim worked out fine.