With the Orioles scoring a season-high 17 runs Sunday while winning their fifth game in six tries, the easy joke, of course, is to utter, “Break up the Orioles.”
The reality, of course, is breaking up the Orioles is the only path of action that should be taken this season, no matter how hot the club gets in May or June.
Their performance in April – and the pending offseason – should guarantee that.
Yes, it’s great the Orioles have strung together some wins, especially at home. Losing is difficult for all involved, and the Orioles weren’t as bad as their record indicated.
And we all knew that this offense could explode at any time,
Some fans scoffed at my notion earlier this month that the return of Mark Trumbo should give the lineup a lift, but he’s hitting .327 since he came off the disabled list. And 2017 Most Valuable Oriole Jonathan Schoop is raking now that he’s healthy, too.
The offense is back at full strength – minus Tim Beckham – and that should help.
Right-hander Dylan Bundy returned to form Sunday, throwing seven shutout innings while allowing two hits, and four walks and compiling seven strikeouts – an important step after not recording an out in his last start.
And, with Schoop back at second, the defense has improved, and should continue to get better with Machado becoming more and more comfortable at shortstop and Jace Peterson providing a slight upgrade at third base recently.
The point is there is more of a cohesiveness now, and barring injury, the Orioles shouldn’t be playing at a .300 win clip going forward.
But this club would have to play near .600 ball (72-49) for the rest of the year just to get to 85 wins – which is basically the minimum to be a Wild Card team.
Sorry, but in this division with this roster, that’s not going to happen.
So, staying the course and exploring trade options for most Orioles by the end of July – while enjoying some better play in the next two-plus months – should be the dual goal.
In other words, yeah, break up these Orioles.
Another claim, another curious fit
On Sunday, the Orioles announced they had claimed 24-year-old infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez from the Texas Rangers.
Nunez was signed by the Oakland Athletics out of Venezuela as an amateur in 2010 and played with that organization until he was claimed off waivers by the Rangers in April.
He has hit .167 with a .222 on-base percentage and .273 slugging percentage in 72 plate appearances in parts of three big league seasons. In 66 MLB at-bats, he has 23 strikeouts. He does, however, have power, hitting two homers in the majors and hitting at least 18 per year in the minors from 2013 to 2017, including 32 last year (though he had 141 strikeouts).
From what I’ve been told, he’s not a particularly good fielder at left or third base, meaning his best defensive position may be DH.
So, a corner infield/outfield type with big power, little defensive abilities and a penchant for free-swinging? I feel like the Orioles have that market covered. Still, it cost them nothing but a waiver claim and a 40-man roster spot (and the placement of Tim Beckham on the 60-day DL after core muscle surgery).
Orioles manager Buck Showalter indicated to reporters after Sunday that Nunez doesn’t appear to be ticketed for the Orioles’ 25-man roster spot soon, so that may mean Duquette might try to spin Nunez through waivers again, and then send him to the minors if he clears. Seems like a low-risk possibility.
A Baby Bird battery
We all know that manager Showalter is always thinking about ways to give his team an edge. Therefore, when he decided to have 24-year-old David Hess make his major league debut Saturday afternoon, I was curious as to who he’d have catch Hess: veteran Caleb Joseph or rookie Chance Sisco, who caught Hess plenty of times in Double-A Bowie.
It was baseball experience versus personal familiarity.
Sisco got the start, marking the first time since August 2009 that an Orioles rookie catcher started behind the plate for a pitcher’s major league debut. That time it was Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz – roughly a year before Showalter joined the Orioles.
I wasn’t the only one who was curious about whether Showalter would tab Sisco with the assignment. Hess was, too.
“I was kind of wondering when I came in who I was going to see up there because Caleb has caught me a little bit, but I had Chance for a few years,” Hess said after his debut. “It felt like we were just back in Bowie, back playing together. It was really good to have a little bit of comfort through that, just to have a guy that I’ve been with, who knows me and I know him. It was a really good process.”
Given how Hess performed – a quality start and his first big league win – it was a good call.