Myriad O's Thoughts: Trumbo's return; Hollywood & Manny; Ohtani & radio musings - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s Thoughts: Trumbo’s return; Hollywood & Manny; Ohtani & radio musings

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon
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There were times last year and during this offseason when fans were clamoring for the Orioles to dump Mark Trumbo.

Given what has occurred in the first month of this season, those people should be thrilled management didn’t listen.

(Full disclosure: I suggested this winter the Orioles deal Trumbo, but only if they couldn’t find starting pitching elsewhere, which they ultimately did on the free agent market.)

Trumbo is expected to make his season debut tonight against his hometown Los Angeles Angels after spending the first month on the shelf with a quad injury.

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Getting him back is a big step for the Orioles, and, frankly, it couldn’t happen quickly enough.

You all know the narrative with Trumbo. The Orioles acquired him in a trade with Seattle for catcher Steve Clevenger before the 2016 season because executive vice president Dan Duquette wanted to replace Chris Davis’ power and assumed Davis would skip town as a free agent.

Instead, Davis stayed — on a $161 million deal brokered by ownership — and Trumbo hit 47 homers that season to lead the American League. Trumbo was expected to skip town on his own big free-agent deal after the 2016 season, but the market crashed on pure power hitters and Trumbo re-signed with the Orioles in what seemed like a reasonable, three-year, $37.5 million deal.

Trumbo then had a down year in 2017, slashing .234/.289/.397 with only 23 homers. Because of defensive limitations in the outfield, he started only 31 games in right. And because of Davis’ presence, Trumbo started just two games at first base, his best defensive position. The rest of Trumbo’s starts — 110 games — were at designated hitter — and, in his career, Trumbo has not performed particularly well as a DH-only.

So, yes, Trumbo, with his high strikeout totals and low on-base clip, seemed like a redundant piece for a one-dimensional offense, hence the murmurs about getting rid of him.

That was last year.

Right now, the trumpets should blare and the red carpet should be rolled out in Anaheim for Trumbo’s return to the Orioles lineup — assuming, of course, he can be more like the 2016 version than the 2017 one.

Jonathan Schoop, Tim Beckham and Colby Rasmus are on the disabled list. Davis is absolutely lost at the plate again and Adam Jones is currently in a funk.

Among Orioles’ hitters, only Manny Machado (.361), second-year-man Trey Mancini (.272) and rookie Chance Sisco (.255) are batting over .250. Those three and Pedro Alvarez are the only Orioles with an on-base percentage above .300. Seriously.

Initially, there was a concern about where Trumbo might fit into the lineup on his return, and some consternation that he could take away at-bats from Alvarez, who is second on the team in homers and third in RBIs.

But there’s plenty of room at the inn for Trumbo at this point. He can go back to right field, where a revolving door of Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander, defensive specialist Craig Gentry, an injured Rasmus and a demoted Joey Rickard has unimpressed.

Trumbo also could get some time at first base, especially against left-handers, considering Davis is 1-for-18 with 12 strikeouts versus southpaws in 2018. And, if Danny Valencia continues to deal with a hamstring issue, Alvarez could be forced to play more third base, leaving DH wide open, too. (Trumbo hasn’t started at third base since 2012, so I’d assume putting him at the hot corner, like the Orioles did for two innings in 2017, is purely reserved for emergencies only.)

The bottom line here is Trumbo had a disappointing season in 2017, but opponents still have to consider him when they gameplan for the Orioles. And having him back gives the lineup a little more street cred.

Prepare for the Machado to the Dodgers rumors

When news broke Monday that Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager will undergo elbow surgery and miss the rest of the season, the wheels began turning all over the blogosphere.

Our social media accounts began filling up with questions about whether the Orioles will talk to the Dodgers about a potential Manny Machado trade. From the outside, it makes sense.

The Orioles are flailing at the start of this season and don’t appear to be willing to pay pending-free-agent Machado what it’ll take to keep him in Baltimore long term. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have a good farm system, a large payroll (maybe too large, luxury-tax-wise, to fit a rental like Machado), serious aspirations for another World Series run and now a hole at short.

So, I’m sure the Orioles and Dodgers will talk — eventually. Although, right now the Dodgers seem prepared to use super-utility man Chris Taylor as their everyday shortstop.

This scenario is exactly why you wait until July to deal off your best pieces. It’s all about competition and a smidge of panic. I’m sure the Orioles could get a decent haul for Machado now from potential contenders who currently have a hole on the left side of the infield. But a lot of teams can’t fully assess who they are at this moment. That won’t come until closer to the All-Star Break. And, by that time, other players will get hurt and be lost for the season, too.

Competition will build. The Orioles (or any team with a top asset) can play clubs off each other and then choose the best package near the non-waiver trade deadline. That’s the way it works in baseball. Very rarely does an in-season impact trade happen before July.

Sure, the Orioles are taking a bit of a gamble that Machado stays healthy, since anything can happen in this game (as the Seager injury reminds us). Plus, you never can predict what the Orioles’ management will do in regards to these situations at crunch time (Zach Britton was nearly traded, and then wasn’t, last July).

If you are asking me if I have 100 percent faith that the Orioles will handle the Machado situation correctly in the next few months, the answer is nope.

But do I have faith that if they wait patiently until July, and Machado stays healthy, that they can maximize the package for him? About that, I say yep.

Sidestepping Ohtani on the mound and radio musings

Heading in to last week it looked as if the Orioles and their loose-swinging offense would end up in a collision with Los Angeles Angels’ Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani and his swing-and-miss arsenal.

The only thing good about that possibility was that Ohtani doesn’t hit the day before or after he pitches, so the Orioles had a chance to at least miss the 23-year-old, two-way star at the plate.

Ohtani, however, tweaked his ankle running the bases, and now won’t pitch until the weekend, completely missing the Orioles’ three-game series in Anaheim starting tonight. Yet, he likely will be available to hit, so he could start two or three games at DH against the Orioles’ pitching staff.

Everyone is seemingly intrigued by Ohtani; I certainly am. So I dedicated a large part of my radio show on WOYK 1350 in York, Pa., on Monday talking about Ohtani with longtime Los Angeles Times baseball writer Mike DiGiovanna.

DiGiovanna discusses Ohtani’s game, the pressure he’s facing as a modern-day Babe Ruth and what’s been most impressive about the player so far. DiGiovanna also dissects these 2018 Angels and how they are playing heading into the Orioles’ series.

If you love baseball, the Orioles or simply are intrigued by Ohtani, check out the show on either the station’s website, our archives or by clicking the arrow below. You can also go to BaltimoreBaseball.com’s section on iTunes and download this week’s show (and my other episodes) as a podcast.

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 1, 2018 at 7:34 am

    It’s all very simple. Put Trumbo at 1st and Crush on the hot corner. Or just cut Crush and eat the contract.

    I’m here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

    PS … Ohtani is obviously ducking the Birds.

    • Orial

      May 1, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Boog that is an interesting idea putting Davis at third. Might help take his mind off of hitting. We can’t continue with Valencia and God forbid Pedro at third. Thanks Manny for moving to SS. Talk about putting us in a hole.

    • Raymo

      May 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

      Hold on… if Manny wasn’t at SS who else would you put there?

      • Djowen

        May 1, 2018 at 9:39 am

        If Manny was still at 3rd there would be shouts to move him to SS.

    • bigdaddydk

      May 1, 2018 at 9:30 am

      I kind of like the idea of Davis at 3rd. He’s not a bad fielder, although maybe not a natural third basemen. He’s certainly more reliable than Valencia or Álvarez. Plus, it would put Trumbo on the field at his best position, and he hits better when he plays defense. Pedro can be a pretty good DH for us. Yes, it would be a lot of strikeouts, but that’s what we’re going to do anyway. Maybe when he’s back, Beckham can transition to OF. He’s faster than Trumbo, and we need speed out there where Jones looks like he’s lost a step.

    • Orial

      May 1, 2018 at 10:47 am

      A lot of The farmhands(Sardinas,Vielma,Peterson,Tejada) can play SS but not 3rd. What does leave for third? Ouch!!

      • Jbigle1

        May 3, 2018 at 12:04 pm

        I’d imagine most of those guys could play 3rd base. They’re Middle infielders by trade but they could certainly slide over to 3rd in a pinch. Playing SS is a bit more difficult than 3rd. None of them can hit though.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 1, 2018 at 11:57 am

      Too much to try to address here, but I doubt the Orioles would move Davis back to third. That’s been a long time. But I will add that Trumbo at first would be the best scenario for him — if it weren’t manned by Davis.

  2. PA Bird Lover

    May 1, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Once I supported Trumbo, thick and thin. Not so now, simply because he’s one more player that’s in the lineup who strikes out nearly all the time. He doesn’t look to move runners and he is never going to bunt. Can’t steal bases either. He’s another Davis to the tee. Alvarez, I believe, is too. Throw in Rasmus and now you have four. It’s nearly impossible to win a game with four automatic strike outs.
    The Birds need to sponsor a fire sale, I’m sicken to say.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 1, 2018 at 11:58 am

      The funny think is fans make it see like Trumbo hasn’t had a good season on years. The man had his best overall campaign in 2016. He’s one year removed from that. It wasn’t in the 1980s.

  3. Orial

    May 1, 2018 at 8:53 am

    First Manny. Yes I see the drumbeat with the Dodgers has started and will probably get very annoying. I agree that the O’s will wait till the deadline to open up the field more if they trade him at all( organization still strikes me as skittish when it comes to making a move). Trumbo–yes I also felt,and still do,that Trumbo was a logjam holding back younger/ better talent BUT something sad has developed. The younger/better talent just didn’t show up. So I reluctantly say–welcome back Mark I “guess” we really need you.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 1, 2018 at 11:59 am

      Skittish is a good word.

  4. garyintheloo

    May 1, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Wow. If Trumbo’s return is hopefully worth pulling out the orange carpet then this is indeed a sad May 1st. Don’t get me wrong I personally and professionally wish him well but this ain’t the road to the World Series as that bridge collapsed.

    • Orial

      May 1, 2018 at 10:49 am

      I think everyone agrees. It’s a testimonial as to how bad our so called prospects/reserves have been.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 1, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      But I do think people want to lump Trumbo and Davis together. And that’s not being fair to Trumbo, who had one bad year and whose contract is four years shorter and a quarter of the overall value.

  5. Bancells Moustache

    May 1, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I’m just here to see Pujols get 3000 hits.

    It would be nice if Trumbo out of nowhere regained his 2016 forty dinger form. It might make the season interesting. Honestly, I have little to no interest in watching him, Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton or really any of the other veterans. Give me the young guys that’ll still be here in a few years. The ‘Buck Dynasty’ era was fun but its over. Lets get something good put in its place, this franchise can’t survive another decade of mediocrity.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 1, 2018 at 9:56 am

      I agree that it’s probably time to move on to the next generation of players. But to declare it’s been “decade of mediocrity” is a bit harsh of a judgement on the Buck era in my opinion. They’ve been a bit more than mediocre ever since Robert Andino did his thing, and I for one appreciate the effort this team and the organization has put forth for the past 7 or 8 years.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    May 1, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I was referring to the 2000s, not the last decade. 2012 to 2016 should be viewed as one of the most glorious eras in a storied franchise history BUT all we have to show for it is that embarrassingly large “AL East Division Champions” banner. I have a tough time believing that coming in first out of five teams warrants a billboard sized sign in Boston or New York.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 1, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      I figured that’s what you meant. And, if so, you are being very kind by using mediocrity.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 1, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      Apologies … I misunderstood/misread. And yes, if you’re talking 2000 to 2010 … as Dan stated … mediocrity is more than a generous description.

  7. jkneps63

    May 1, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    I just can’t get excited about Trumbo and his 0.301 career OBP, especially with Cobb starting tonight. I hope Tillman gave Cobb some advice on how to turn it around. Interesting note – if the O’s go 2-4 on this West Coast trip, they’ll improve their winning pct. Sad.

    Sad story: 2018 is a bad, bad year for baseball for me! O’s make playing 0.400 winning pct baseball look like too tough a goal, my alma mater UVA is going probably miss the ACC tournament let alone the NCAA tourney. Delmarva is the only club playing excellent ball but they are too far away to catch any games.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 2, 2018 at 12:12 am

      Have only been following college for a few years, but that’s definitely a major dropoff for a tremendously strong and consistent program.

  8. Birdman

    May 1, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Meanwhile, while we all focus on the Davis, Trumbo, Tillman, etc., looks like O’s are going to go down the same path with Schoop as with Manny — no extension, no trade, in 2018, and simply wait until next season’s trading deadline and get peanuts for him … typical of the lack of planning that has resulted in the current unbalanced, strike out laden roster.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 2, 2018 at 12:13 am

      I’ve heard nothing about Schoop and any extension talks.

  9. Rusty Trumbo

    May 1, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I think Davis is mentally overthinking everything at the plate, some games at 3rd might just be the mental distraction he needs to get his bat going

    • Dan Connolly

      May 2, 2018 at 12:08 am

      Perhaps. Not sure that’s what the Orioles need with an already shaky defense.

      • Jbigle1

        May 3, 2018 at 12:08 pm

        True. But is Davis any worse than Alvarez or Valencia? Probably not. Maybe better. Trumbo’s a capable 1st baseman. Seems like it’d probably be a wash defensively.

  10. c Soprano

    May 1, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Taking the bait Dan…
    Yes, it’s good to see Trumbo back because he can’t field or hit and Buck will misuse him. So sure, welcome back Mark! The Orioles badly need to accept reality and work on a Memorial Day sell off starting with Manny & Givens to Dodgers for bad debt, top 2 prospects.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 2, 2018 at 12:07 am

      Why trade Givens? Under team control for a few more and Brach and Britton are pending free agents.

      • Jbigle1

        May 3, 2018 at 12:12 pm

        Guess the thought there would be if the team is no good we might as we’ll maximum the return for givens. Don’t need a top set up man on a bad team. We could probably ship them brach with manny and still get a pretty nice return and keep givens around. Matt kemp seems like the easiest bad money to come back so they could afford to take on brach’s Salary in addition If that was the case.

  11. jkneps63

    May 1, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Yo! The savior the of the Orioles 2018 – Jace Peterson – has OBP > 0.300 and he no appreciate your slight DC!

    Plus we have an OMG alert! Sisco is in the starting lineup!?!?!

    • Dan Connolly

      May 2, 2018 at 12:06 am

      Very true. I overlooked his .318 in five games. Mea culpa, Jace.

  12. AlaskanOsFan

    May 2, 2018 at 2:16 am

    Hey look a new Owwioles imploda-closer…welcome to the meltdown Brach..your pitches are the yummy candy all batters like this season

  13. MAGICEJS

    May 2, 2018 at 8:43 am

    So Manny says yesterday he would like to stay , do you see any remote possibility that the Orioles pony up the money

    • Dan Connolly

      May 2, 2018 at 9:00 am

      I don’t. It’s gonna be more money than they are comfortable spending. But I never thought they’d bring back Davis either. I guess it all depends on the market. For the record, Machado has always said he wanted to stay. That public statement has never changed.

  14. trevise-en

    May 2, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    First off, let me say that I’m an adherent of the Branch Rickey principle that is is much better to cast off a player one year early than one year too late. Trading for Mark Trumbo before the 2016 season, he was a mediocre, mono-dimensional player that could be plugged into a lineup on a periodic basis, and give a team a certain level of performance for a short term. Then to everyone’s astonishment, the deities that be sprinkled him with ‘fairy dust’ which carried him to a remarkable career year. Yet even then, there were signs that his 2016 level of performance was not sustainable. In the following offseason, 29 teams realized that fact, and were not going to offer him four years north of $50M fo performance they were unlikely to ever see. All but the Orioles! Mark Trumbo simply is what he is. There is never going to be a second act of Cinderella returning to the ball. And for any of us to expect it is just a futile exercise in wishful thinking.

    • Jbigle1

      May 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      To be fair his old teammate in Anaheim Kendrys Morales received a similar 3/33 million dollar pact the same offseason. He came off a season where he hit 48 homeruns. His numbers did show some likely regression but his deal was market value at that time. It wasn’t like the Davis deal where we seemingly bid against ourselves.

    • ubetonit

      May 4, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      It also seems like the Orioles didn’t know what they had in Mancini. Otherwise, why sign Trumbo another 1B who couldn’t play the OF.

  15. willmiranda

    May 2, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Regarding Manny. I have to think the O’s have a short list of players from other organizations that they would want in exchange. If they are determined or resigned to his leaving, they should make a deal for assets they think worthy whenever the opportunity arises. I understand the logic of waiting until July for the most competition, but the teams competing might not have the assets we want. With a value like Manny, the O’s should set the price rather than passively risk an auction among the have-nots. Because a team thinks it’s in a pennant race doesn’t mean it has the prospects we want and they’re not going to part with players that are vital parts of a contending team. Holding on to Manny for as long as possible may simply be a symptom of separation anxiety.

  16. ubetonit

    May 4, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Opponents need to “gameplan for the Orioles” ??

  17. ubetonit

    May 6, 2018 at 12:15 am

    Wow, batting Davis 7th or 8th sure lasted a long time. Good to see him back in his rightful cleanup perch where he struck out 3 times (twice looking). Great judgement, Buck

  18. Mau

    May 6, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Boy, can’t wait for Dan’s next article after this road trip. This is the perfect storm. No 3rd baseman, short-timer at SS, everyday 2nd baseman hurt, 1st baseman can’t hit. Some days no one can hit. When the pitchers pitch well, hitters don’t hit and when the hitters actually hit, the pitchers don’t pitch. Gonna be fun covering the O’s this year. Opening day was so much fun too…

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