Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Still break up the O's; Nunez move; Baby Bird battery - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Still break up the O’s; Nunez move; Baby Bird battery

Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports

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.

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 14, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Dan, Dan, Dan …. Oh ‘ye of little faith!! What’s wrong with playing .600 ball and getting to 85 wins with a shot a wild card? Heck, why not play .650 ball and get a few more and possibly a wild card spot? I’d take that in a heartbeat! To me, I simply want this team to win and play up to its considerable potential. And if nobody thinks that potential is considerable, then why were we asking ourselves if this is the most disappointing season we can remember just a couple weeks ago? Regardless of whether they make the playoffs, it’s sure been a lot more fun watching this team over the past week or so hasn’t it? I certainly don’t want to watch them lose game after game until September, do you? Do we want to win some games, or do we want to sit around crying in our fake beers for the rest of the year, bemoaning management, jockeying for draft position and hypothesizing about roster moves? I say take the wins whenever and where ever you can, and enjoy the ballgame.

    Go O’s!!!

    (I can already hear BanMo preaching about the futilty of a wildcard spot)

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Winning is always better than losing for all involved. Even the curmudgeonly scribe/barkeep.

    • Bancells Moustache

      May 14, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      I find your lack of faith disturbing.

      And I am on record saying I hate the fact that front offices now think the only way to build a winner is to subject the fanbase to two or three 100 loss seasons. That’s not the only way. Even more flummoxing is all of the fans who clamor for that very thing. To hell with that. I believe this team can still be watchable while building a winner because, against all odds, they finally don’t have to expend all of their resources on decent pitching and can now focus on position players, who come along faster and are easier to find. Baltimore fans should know better than anyone, not having pitching is like not having a quarterback. You can have all the sexy names on the roster you want and they still won’t get you over the hump. It would appear the Orioles have at least partially solved the pitching problem. Now to reload. .500 this year and probably next year is palatable. 2020 needs to be the new target for a Championship. “Playoff appearances” are not a mark of success, merely participation trophies.

    • Odetta240

      May 15, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      I agree. Win every game you can win, now.

  2. OsFanStuckInNY

    May 14, 2018 at 7:42 am

    My two favorite surprises of the weekend:
    Hess performance after coughing up 3 quick runs and Rickard’s big day.
    Here’s hoping there’s lots more where that came from.
    Can they all keep wearing pink?

    • LenSakata

      May 14, 2018 at 7:45 am

      Keep Davis out of the lineup. Seems to do the trick – no rally killer smack in middle of the lineup.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Hess was definitely the primary highlight. Escaping that first inning was huge

  3. Gibbyx

    May 14, 2018 at 7:50 am

    I don’t think anyone is saying they don’t enjoy the wins….but the Os have a track record of being unrealistic about what they were and making poor deadline decisions (Arrieta/Strop trade, Josh Hader trade, Zach Davies trade).

    I would have loved to see the Os make one final run and give this group of vets a chance for a World Series in Bmore, but through a combination of injuries and slow starts, just didn’t happen. Still this season could define the franchise for a decade or more. The Os are in an extremely unusual position being essentially out of contention by mid May AND having a huge stash of trade chips (Machado, Schoop, Jones, Oday, Brach, Britton, Trumbo) and that doesn’t even include some of their more valuable long term pieces they could trade (givens, Gausman). If the Os really committed to making this team a competitor in the near future, they could probably acquire 5 Top 100 prospects plus 10-12 other prospects (ranging from mid level to fringy) to load up this farm system.

    I would much rather see the team set up for success in the next couple years even if that meant watching losing baseball for a few years. The other option is reminiscing on what this group did in ‘12, ‘14, ‘16 and enduring terrible teams for the next 5-10 years because we didn’t capitalize when we could

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Fair points.

    • Strovel

      May 14, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      I think this way overstates the return for dealing these players. The new normal is the McCutcheon trade in Pittsburgh. And AJ wouldn’t even fetch near as much as Cutch did. The return for Brach, Britton, or O’Day will be negligible. Trumbo? You’d have to pay somebody to take him.

  4. deqalt

    May 14, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Dan great job on MASN over the weekend. I agreed with just about everything you said. My only thought is the effectiveness of Roger as a pitching coach. Yes the players have to do the job. Look at the job the pitching coach has done in Houston. More specifically the impact and dramatic change in Cole and Charlie Morton. They credit the change in pitching philosophy. Clearly the message is different. My question is what is being taught as an organization the right one. Clearly Orioles struggle with developing starters. All show flashes of greatness, but near for a long period. This goes back to even Jake Arrieta who was allowed to return to his early style of pitching. One the Orioles would not allow.

    and yes break up this team. They will improve, but not going to play .600 the rest of the way. Getting back to .500 by the end would be a huge accomplishment.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Lots of issues involving the Arrieta situation beyond taking away the cutter — which was done to keep him healthy. But I do agree with you about sustaining good pitching for years. But frankly it’s not that easy. Plus, Morton And Cole previously were with the guy currently viewed as the best pitching coach in Baseball in Ray Searage.

  5. TxBirdFan

    May 14, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I don’t understand the Nunez acquisition. He has extremely low value, and Rangers leadership was already pointing fingers to blame someone for why he was picked up in April. The fact that the O’s are investing any time with him causes me concern. They have much bigger things to worry about – like winning at a .650 clip for the rest of the year.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Depth only. My guess is they are gambling that they can get him through waivers. If the can’t, no harm no foul.

  6. Quote27

    May 14, 2018 at 8:54 am

    I just don’t understand why no one is asking the Angelos brain trust why there aren’t serious efforts to get manny and schoop signed. You have a premier player in manny and a really good one in schoop. You’d be set in the middle infield for years. Add Cisco Mancini bundy and gausman and you have a pretty nice nucleus

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Because they don’t feel it is prudent to spend so much money on one player in Machado. That’s their prerogative. I love how this is on the media for not asking the question.

    • Dpsmith22

      May 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      VERY soon, Schoop’s price will climb and be very expensive. This organization is so inept, its not funny.

      They have been pumping Schoop up for years that he was going to be a star. Now he is and they didn’t extent him. I guess they didn’t believe themselves, that he was.

  7. BunkerFan

    May 14, 2018 at 9:47 am

    I’m with Quote 27 here. Why not make serious efforts to sign Manny and Jon? They might even take a bit less to continue to play together, they’re such good friends. With Bundy, Gaus, Cashner, Cobb, and Hess/Harvey, the starters could be very good over the next few years. I don’t see the need for a total rebuild. There is talent coming through the pipeline. And there are no guarantees that even highly touted minor leaguers acquired in traded pan out.
    The O’s had a terribly difficult schedule until this week…probably the most difficult of any AL team. And they had to do it without Schoop and Trumbo. And carrying Santander. While yesterday was an anomaly, it shows what the offense can do now that the old team is back together (Schoop, Trum, Rickard). Before we throw in the towel on this season, let’s see now how they do against the best teams like Philly and Boston this week.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:30 am

      No one takes less to play with a friend. It’s a business. But yeah the Orioles would be better off with both on this team.

  8. Dblack2508

    May 14, 2018 at 9:58 am

    I certainly like when they play up to their potential than not. This is just a small sample size, I want to see how they respond to the better teams. I do think they should try to sign Schoop before the trade deadline, if not then move him with the other players. I hope they have learned from what happened with Manny.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 10:31 am

      Better teams is a key.

  9. bickel57

    May 14, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Even the 88 Orioles has a couple of winning streaks. This week will tell if the last week was real or pretend. We have the Phillies for 2 then go to Boston for 4. Let’s see what the win column looks like next Monday. Here we go again picking up retreads that can’t play a position . This guy doesn’t seem like he can hit either. We have enough of that clutter have to get rid of. I been saying a lot that Sisco needs to play more.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 11:55 am

      If he’s not taking up a 40-man rosters spot for long, then I don’t see any problem at all on giving him a shot to hit in the minors. We’ll see. As for Sisco, you are gonna get a mixed bad for someone so young. He can drive the ball but he also has struck out 30 times in 71 at-bats. I’m perfectly good with the way things are being structured at this moment with catching.

  10. ZantiGM

    May 14, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Keep tweaking the roster
    Wright and Araujo-DFA
    Hart and Joseph -optioned

    Susac-purchased
    Hess-recalled
    Melville-recalled-bullpen
    Harvey-recalled-bullpen

    • Jbigle1

      May 14, 2018 at 12:18 pm

      Why waste harvey’s Development in the bullpen? We aren’t a good team. We aren’t going to be a good team this year. Melville can come up and you can DFA Wright. Hess will be up next time we need a turn in the rotation I would imagine. Caleb’s not going anywhere. Araujo won’t get DFA’d in a lost season unless he really starts to struggle.

    • Dpsmith22

      May 14, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      If they DFA Araujo, it circumvents Duquettes love for the Rule 5. My bet is, he stays for awhile and rightly he should. We are going no where, so let’s give him the season to see if the light bulb comes on.

      • Bancells Moustache

        May 14, 2018 at 12:41 pm

        May as well keep Araujo and let him develop. It’s not like he will screw up and blow a playoff game or anything. I’m with you on Susac though. Caleb is a fan favorite and seems like a nice guy, neither of which make him an everyday Major League backstop. I wouldn’t bother with Harvey in the ‘Pen either. Let him keep pitching in the bushes and give us a peek later in the year. Hess is my number 5 starter until he shows otherwise. Honestly, they could put Gary Thorne out there every fifth day and it couldn’t be worse than what they had.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      My two cents. I wouldn’t move Harvey to the majors until he’s had at least a half season of development and health. And I would only do it as a starter. At least initially. And I’m beyond Araujo now. Good arms are good arms. But I’ve seen plenty to believe that he can be a major league reliever but not one that should be kept at a cost (wins and someone else’s development).

  11. jkneps63

    May 14, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Oh Dan of the authoritative statements! Google “professional athletes who took lesser money”

    Little snippy in the replies today. Deep breath!

    • BunkerFan

      May 14, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Jkneps63 got that one right. Interesting Google that includes Joe Mauer and Jered Weaver….and didn’t AJ give the O’s a hometown discount when he signed his last contract? The challenge is: can the O’s keep contending while renewing — not completely rebooting– the team. I think they can and see signing Cobb, in particular, as a step in that direction. Also, I suspect that they would not have let Manny move to SS if they thought they had absolutely no chance of getting him to resign here. I don’t get why they would let him do that otherwise. Why not offer to sign him and Schoopy together for 5-7 years? That then anchors the middle of the infield for almost a decade. It’s outside the box; but so what?

    • Dan Connolly

      May 14, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      Not snippy. Just explaining quickly. So this will be longer: I don’t believe the statement was about a hometown discount. It was Machado and Schoop might take less to play together. And I’ve never seen that in my career. Hometown discounts can happen. But in Mauer’s and Weaver’s cases they were literal hometown discounts — to stay in their hometowns, Minny and LA. Manny isn’t from Parkville; Jon not from Owings Mills. And Jones’ discount ate away some arb years. No longer have that luxury with Manny and only one with Schoop. Bottom line: Machado is looking for best market value and Os almost certainly won’t pay that.

  12. BunkerFan

    May 14, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Good points Dan. I don’t know of a “friends discount.” The closest thing it resembles is a “hometown discount.” And it works even if the hometown isn’t the one you grew up in, though for Mauer and Weaver, as you say, they WERE literal hometowns. AJ didn’t grow up in Baltimore but he gave the O’s a discount nevertheless. Since Manny and Jon are such good friends…and now they are actually playing next to one another — why not explore trying to sign them together for a “discount.” (I’d love 1/100 of what they are going to earn, even Schoopy; but that’s another story…) Anyhow, just dreaming…I think you’re right about Manny. BUT there is still time to sign Schoop before he bolts for the bucks.

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