Myriad O's Thoughts: Poor roster construction dooms again; Davis at cleanup; ill-fated send (with a purpose) - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s Thoughts: Poor roster construction dooms again; Davis at cleanup; ill-fated send (with a purpose)

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Right before first pitch Tuesday, Orioles infielder Danny Valencia had to be scratched from the starting lineup because, according to manager Buck Showalter, Valencia had to meet his expectant wife at the hospital.

That’s obviously the right thing to do. No problem with that at all.

But not having Valencia available forced Joey Rickard into the starting lineup. Again, not a problem. Rickard had two hits and is holding his own with a .286 average after raking at Triple-A Norfolk.

But that left the Orioles with a three-man bench: Trey Mancini, who was getting a breather after being in a 6-for-51 skid (.118 average) since May 16; Craig Gentry, who is hitting .217 in 83 at-bats and Andrew Susac, who is 3-for-24 (.125) since his recall.

ADVERTISEMENT

And that loomed huge in the bottom of the ninth in an eventual 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.

With one out against nasty, left-handed closer Sean Doolittle, Showalter brought Mancini in to pinch-hit for lefty Pedro Alvarez.

Doolittle hit – barely – Mancini with a pitch and then gave up a single to Rickard.

Two on, one out and the tying and winning runs on base.

So, Showalter had the right-handed-hitting Gentry pinch-hit for lefty Chance Sisco. Gentry struck out.

Then Showalter subbed in Susac for lefty Jace Peterson.

Another strikeout. Game over.

You can argue that Gentry (.190 in 42 at-bats versus lefties) didn’t need to pinch-hit for Sisco (2-for-8 against southpaws).

But that’s not really the point.

The point is this bench has zero depth, especially when a guy like Valencia is not available.

“I don’t look at it that way. (Valencia’s absence) just creates an opportunity for somebody. Those guys are capable of doing the job,” Showalter said. “You knew Joey was going to get a couple hits as soon as (Valencia’s scratch) happens. He came through for us. That’s kind of an excuse. We’ve got some good people capable of doing the job there.”

I appreciate Showalter supporting his guys, but these players aren’t doing the jobs that are needed – partially because too much is being asked of them.

Again, it goes back to roster construction. Gentry, Susac, Peterson, Alvarez, Valencia and Rickard are, at best, role players in the majors and they are being counted on in key spots – IN MAY.

And why?

Because the Orioles were counting on Colby Rasmus, Tim Beckham and a revolving door of light-hitting middle infielders to plug holes, and instead they all got hurt.

Injuries happen, but injuries to those players shouldn’t cripple a roster.

It’s stunning that the Orioles’ roster is where it is and there is still two-thirds of a season to play.

Davis at cleanup; goes 0-for-4

Showalter used the line again Tuesday afternoon when explaining why Chris Davis and his .156 average and his anemic .491 on-base-plus-slugging percentage was batting cleanup.

“If not him than who?”

The answer: Anyone.

Simply, anyone else besides Davis. It’s not helping him or the team to continue to put him into a run-producing spot. You want his defense at first? Fine. But bat him seventh, eighth or ninth.

Showalter made a point of saying that Davis has had some success against Washington starter Jeremy Hellickson – and that is true. Davis was 11-for-30 against the Nationals’ right-hander and former Oriole. But they hadn’t faced each other since 2014, and Davis hadn’t gotten a hit off Hellickson since 2013.

I think it is fair to say Davis is a different hitter now than he was in 2013.

Showalter also said he was trying to stagger his left-handed and right-handed hitters against a Nationals team that had three lefties in the bullpen.

Fine, then use Alvarez at cleanup. Or go crazy and bat Sisco fourth once.

Instead, Showalter relied on his veteran again, and Davis went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts looking. He’s now batting .153 with 71 strikeouts in 177 at-bats.

Ill-fated send, understandable reasoning

With two outs in the fifth and the Orioles trailing 3-1, Adam Jones hit a double to left-center that scored a run. Third base coach Bobby Dickerson decided to be aggressive and send Peterson home as well, and he was easily out on a good relay throw by Trea Turner.

It would have been the tying run, and ultimately the Orioles lost, 3-2.

Here’s the thing: It wasn’t a good send by Dickerson.

But because the Orioles simply aren’t scoring runs, they have to be aggressive on the basepaths. And, frankly, if Dickerson had held Peterson, we all knew what would have happened.

The Nationals would have intentionally walked Manny Machado to bring up Davis with the bases loaded and two outs.

And because Davis is an offensive liability, you’re probably better off pushing the baserunning envelope.

Jones, for one, said he liked the aggressiveness – and said it is something the Orioles must do right now.

“I think we do. What can we lose? I look at it that way. What else bad can happen? Try it. Screw it. We’ve gotta try and do something different. Imagine if Turner short-hopped (the catcher) or he bobbled (the ball) and we scored a run,” Jones said.

“Manny’s probably gonna get walked. Hopefully, (Davis would have) came up and (drove) everyone in. But obviously that scenario didn’t happen. But I like the aggression on the basepaths. We need to do something and trying something different is good cuz we haven’t hit well with men in scoring position. So, when we get a hit, we gotta try and score them.”

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. ubetonit

    May 30, 2018 at 2:16 am

    “I think it is fair to say Davis is a different hitter now than he was in 2013.” EXACTLY. The past is NOT prologue for Davis. Well, the past before 2016.

    “The answer: Anyone.” is the only correct answer.

    Btw, i hate the description ‘struggling’. Applying that to Davis is like saying the Titanic chipped a piece of ice.

    Davis has fewer Hr’s & RBI’s than Shohei Ohtani in 70% more AB’s.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 8:41 am

      There are so many numbers that are mind-boggling. His OPS right now for 2018 (.491) is 10 points higher than his career slugging percentage (.481)

      • bigdaddydk

        May 30, 2018 at 9:25 am

        His OBP and his SLG% are remarkably close to each other right now. Can he actually have a higher OBP than SLG% for a season?

        Davis is historically bad at the moment too. He’s batting .153. If he has enough ABs to qualify, and if he can’t raise his BA to .180 or better, he will have the all-time worst BA for a season for a non-pitcher, joining or dropping below the .179 that Dan Uggla and Rob Deer both managed. How on earth you keep that in the lineup is beyond me. He’s on a 203 strikeout pace, assuming he plays with the same consistency. He’s been out of the lineup 7 times already this season. If he plays everyday, he’s on pace for 233 strikeouts over 162 games. That’s just not something you can put into the lineup with any regularity. If he was hitting HRs and extra base hits when not striking out, even batting .230, you can justify it. He’s not producing at all, and frankly, it’s embarrassing for him.

        • ubetonit

          May 30, 2018 at 2:10 pm

          “he will have the all-time worst BA for a season” I texted a friend in NoVa several days ago that that would be the case b/c most batters this bad are benched or released w/o reaching enough ABs to qualify.

      • ubetonit

        May 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm

        Dan, is there a Rubicon? Or does the plane just into the ground on this?

      • ubetonit

        June 1, 2018 at 1:08 pm

        When i’ve heard Buck speak, he actually seems rather intelligent as baseball managers go, so i’ll have to conclude exceedingly stubborn with a LOT of bad judgment mixed in. If he was captain of a ship it would be “Let’s see if we can nudge that iceberg.”

  2. Creatively09

    May 30, 2018 at 2:50 am

    I made some of those exact points about the roster to my friend right after the game ended. Who are these guys and why are they all in a major league lineup? It would be one thing if they were upcoming prospects getting their first taste of playing at the Major League level, but these are guys who are not only experienced at this level, but don’t particularly excel at it either. I’m leaving some frustrated notes I have on a few of these guys. Thanks for letting me vent, hopefully I can find a nice cold Natty Boh in the taproom with my name on it soon.

    Susac – I don’t exactly understand why this guy is still on this roster – bring back Caleb – the guy lost a nut for this team.

    Gentry – what good is a guy with speed off the bench if the guys in the lineup can’t get on and you don’t play many close games?

    Araujo – (I can’t believe I spelled his name correctly on the first try) – He’s destined to be a mid inning reliever at best and he can’t even handle that. Get your $25,000 back and bring up Harvey to start getting some MLB innings – he can stretch out to start next season when we might actually need him.

    Peterson – the fact that the O’s have a guy on the team who’s slugging percentage is less than his on base percentage is both amazing and scary.

    Alvarez – El Torro is really a one trick pony. Time to put this one out to pasture.

    Davis – seriously man, please just take the rest of 2018 off. You’re not going to another team, you’re probably not about to take a minor league assignment and your salary is guaranteed. Go take some time and figure out if baseball is something you actually want to continue to pursue in your life because otherwise you’re stealing $125 million from the Angelos family, and that’s not kosher. Seriously, the O’s should have saved the Sheriff and shot the deputy .

    Valencia – when you get to a point where having him in your lineup actually helps the team, you know you’re done for.

    Mullins – Needs to be playing for this team today.

    • Gibbyx

      May 30, 2018 at 7:43 am

      I’d disagree on a lot of these. I think we need to pick Gentry or Rickard to be the 5th outfielder (I agree I’d go with Rickard) and let DJ Stewart cut his teeth in the majors

      Susac and Joseph is kind of a wash right now…..Susac was raking in AAA so I think it’s worth giving him a look, but if we send him down I’d rather see Austin wynns brought up so he can work with Bobby Dickerson, since he may be the back up next year

      If we were competitive I’d agree about Araujo, but at this point not worth getting rid of him (plus we’re likely to deal away half the bullpen so we may need a bunch of arms) plus Harvey isn’t exactly crushing it in AA, looks like he’s in the right spot right now

      Valencia and Alvarez are doing well as bench players…..plus thy have some of the best OPS numbers on the team (scary I know). I think they both make good trade chips later this summer, though we’ll get low minors guys for them, maybe a mid range for Valencia

      Peterson should be first guy out when Beckham returns…..sad fact is no one really in AA or AAA to replace him

      I like Mullins, depending on who we move, I’d like to see him in BMore before year end. I wouldn’t bring him now though unless we have an everyday spot for him, which with Mancini, Jones, Trumbo, and Rickard I don’t see buck facilitating

    • Orial

      May 30, 2018 at 8:13 am

      creativity that is sn Excellant analysis.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 8:44 am

      So much to get to. I’m with you on some. The one I truly can’t endorse is Harvey. He’s barely pitched in his career due to injury. It’s more important for him to stay healthy and have some sustained minor league success than come to the majors to appease fans.

  3. Gregblick

    May 30, 2018 at 7:00 am

    Morning,
    I was having this discussion with a buddy about if this was the most frustrating season of any of our favorite sports teams ever. I argued that this is the most frustrating season.

    There have been seasons when we as fans have understood the direction of the team. (I.e. youth movement, rebuild, middle of a decade and a half of trying to figure something out) However this was supposed to be a year that we tried for one last go at it. I get that, but it has failed miserably. Anyone watching this team can see the issues with how it is constructed. It’s not that trying to go for it is an issue, but here imo is how its unfolding:

    We as fans are left assuming what the overall motive of the decision makers are. There is no one answering the questions other than the “ho-hum” tongue in cheek kinda answers that feel as though these individuals think we as fans are stupid for asking the questions we do. I know they want to win, I dont believe they have quit, I know management built this team with the intention to contend. But it is not working. Most fans I talk to understand it’s time to blow up the team. Some like me myself believe that time was after the 16 or 17 season. But that they went for it, and that’s okay that it didnt work, but it’s time for a new approach at least. So would it be so bad to come out and just address everyone and say this what we are doing? Otherwise I feel the goodwill this team has created over the past 6 years, will simply become a blip in the abysmal era that it followed. I am almost at the point of not caring again, that I believe is worse than being simply frustrated or angry.

    Thanks,
    Greg

    • Gibbyx

      May 30, 2018 at 7:34 am

      Very well put. I understand DD likes to keep his cards close to his chest and there’s always the chance ownership will nix a machado deal, but all the “we need to wait and see” comments are a joke….there a professional way to say “we’re not playing well right now as a team, but we have a lot of pieces other teams might be interested in, so we need to see if there are any deals that might benefit the Orioles in the long term.

      I also can’t for the life of me understand how Sisco is being used this season. Since the season is effectively a punt, why is Buck hiding him from lefties? We need to get him regular at bats so he can refine his approach….1 to 2 days off MAX a week so he can develop a rhythm.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 8:48 am

      To me, it doesn’t matter what is said. It makes no difference. Never does. It’s the actions that are taken. No one will care what is said in May if they do this right in July.

  4. LenSakata

    May 30, 2018 at 8:05 am

    Dan, good to see you pointing out the poor managerial decisions (on top of the poor GM and ownership decisions). It is time for Buck and Davis to go – both were once good (as was Jimenez) even great but that shouldn’t hurt the team if they are no good anymore.

    GibbyX- good point on the Sisco pinch hit. I thought it was a bad move too.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 8:49 am

      Again, firing for firing sake makes no sense. Maybe the Os need a fresh message in the clubhouse but Showalter didn’t suddenly become a bad manager. Trust me. I’ve been up close for bad managers. He’s not one of them.

    • LenSakata

      May 30, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Why would a sound manager put one of the worst hitters batting cleanup?

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 9:34 am

      Blind hope? Or making a point.

  5. Orial

    May 30, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Number one–who would have thought that Valencia would be one your top 3 hitters(Manny,Jones)? This upcoming Yankee serious appears very frightening. Pitching, these days, has become a secondary concern. Expecting the “Big Purge” soon–maybe after NY series.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 8:50 am

      I’d wait until July. Again, patience fir the best deals.

  6. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    May 30, 2018 at 8:38 am

    I agree, the Orioles could have had a much deeper bench. There was a good number of free agents before the season started. They could have filled some of their the obvious needs with them. Instead they went with unproven or marginal talent hoping that one could have a big year.

    Davis needs to move back in the lineup as noted. He is an offensive liability. He struck out twice last night looking. This drives me crazy. You’re not driving in runs if you don’t swing.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 9:35 am

      I’m still stuck on the decision not to pursue Jon Jay.

  7. JCO

    May 30, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Perhaps the worst part about the Davis mess is the reveal that he might not have worked as hard to change as he claimed, and may be rejecting adjustment suggestions. I know that sometimes pro athletes become stubborn and want to think what got them there is the best path but it’s to the point where they need to put their foot down with him, as Creatively09 said above. Tell him to either go to the minors to work on his skills against lesser competition or be released. As the part above about sending the runner shows, he’s affecting the offense in multiple ways.

    I don’t know how many answers there are in the minors. The fans clamoring for “they need to bring this guy up” seems to rapidly becomes fans complaining “what’s this guy doing on a MLB roster” with the Orioles.

    Meanwhile, if Andy MacPhail remembers some of the venom he received from Oriole fans and smirks, I can’t blame him. I would. If Duquette goes somewhere that’s not the Jersey Shore-style Dysfunction-fest of baseball front offices and is successful, wouldn’t be surprised one bit. We’re fans of a team whose front office is viewed by their peers as the drunk uncle of franchise management.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 9:39 am

      You have to understand the: go to the minors or be released threat is toothless. If he’s released, he is still getting every dime from the Orioles. Then he can get out of Baltimore, clear his head and sign on with another team at the pro-rated league minimum. While the Orioles literally pay him fully through 2022 and deferred through 2037.

  8. 54orioles

    May 30, 2018 at 9:07 am

    I read through all of the comments and now realize that I am not alone in my thinking……..this team is far worse than the 62 Mets.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 9:40 am

      I still think 100 losses is 50-50. That kind of craptitude is hard to do. But this club is special.

  9. joecap1946

    May 30, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Dan great articles as always….I really enjoy reading your input and answering a few questions.

    Thanks…I just hope this team does the right thing and does a overhaul….hopefully the kids can bring some life to this old, over paid team.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Appreciate the input. And a lot has to do with how talented some of these kid are.

  10. Dpsmith22

    May 30, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Duquette has been bad since the end of the 14 season. He has consistently been unable to acquire legit depth and supplement a world series caliber core, with solid players, DESPITE a high payroll. Look at last year. He signed 5 “depth” starters. Every one of them not only couldn’t get big league hitters out, but got roughed up in AAA. When you need to acquire a major league pitcher to “just finish the season”, Hellickson, your roster management is poor.

    Instead of attempting to acquire balance, Duquette has piled on guys like Rasmus and Beckham, when other, “better fit” options were available and in some cases, CHEAPER.

    -It is sad to me that Buck is taking a beating by many fans in Bmore. While I disagree with some of his on field decisions, I can’t help by laugh when 4-5 of the 9 hitters in the lineup, are backups or AAA players. Schoop leading off…lol yea its comical, but there is no one else. When you have 5 of the same hitter and 4 AAA guys, you need to fold that hand.

    Fire Duquette and fold this hand.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 9:42 am

      One thing to quibble with here. Beckham was and is a flier worth taking.

      • Dpsmith22

        May 30, 2018 at 10:49 am

        Hey Dan, That may be. However, when your roster has so many returning players, with poor OBP, ANY opening in that lineup needs to be filled with players with a different skill set. Beckham does not meet that needed skill set.

        At Beckham salary (3.5 mil), I don’t agree that he was worth a flier. He has never been able to be consistent enough to be an everyday player. Betting that he could, was a risky proposition. Especially, coming from an organization who is rarely wrong about young players. As a utility player, on a true contender, he would have been an excellent move.

        Duquette continues to ask more from players than they are capable and we wonder why we are so bad.

  11. DiamondJim

    May 30, 2018 at 10:32 am

    I agree that the team has been ill-constructed for 2018 and, given the way we know this organization operates, I place the responsibility for what we are experiencing squarely on the shoulders of the Angelos Family. All the prospective free agents at the end of 2018 and the uncertainty that creates, the signing of Chris Davis ( a couple of seasons ago ) where we were bidding against ourselves, not re-signing Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller a few years ago, the uncertainty created as a result of entering the 2018 season with a lame duck manager and GM — all these situations were created by actions (or inactions) of Peter or the Angelos sons. It is about time that if the Angelos Family isn’t wholeheartedly interested in giving this community a competitive baseball team, it should sell its slight majority ownership shares to a current minority owner who is.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 11:26 am

      I don’t put it squarely on anyone. So many shoulder blame — or should — for where this organization is now. Let’s not forget that the Orioles have and have had a payroll in the top half for more than half of a decade. It’s all about spending wisely and having an efficient infrastructure. And that’s where the problem is.

  12. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    May 30, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Dan, I like that you’re not afraid to voice your opinion without sugar-coating it. I read the blogs over at MASN, but I feel like Roch and Steve both have to handle things with kid gloves.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 30, 2018 at 11:31 am

      I appreciate that. I’ll also say that those two are more beat writers than what I am now — which is much more of a hybrid. I’ve created a situation where I can opine a lot more than guys who analyze some but whose primary responsibility is covering the day-to-day ongoings of the team. Same with other outlets like The Sun, MLB.Com and PressBox. Just different roles for the true beat writers than what I’ve chosen to do here. But they do their jobs well, imo.

    • Raymo

      May 30, 2018 at 8:52 pm

      I presume those guys have to be careful about expressing their true opinions. We all know what happened to the great Jon Miller who I consider to be the best radio voice ever to call a baseball game.

  13. Gregblick

    May 30, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Dan,
    I wanted to bring something up because one of your responses has sparked a question. Like all of my responses that are questions this maybe slightly long winded apologies in advance. Also I’d like to be on record for saying I think Buck is an awesome manager, but…

    We as fans are growing tiresome of some of the same excuses and responses for the same issues that have plagued this team for a while. I dont question Buck as manager of the team, his track record speaks for itself. But what I wonder is, does he have any responsibility for how this team is constructed. Our offense philosophy has been to be aggressive and as I’ve heard before “the first pitch may most likely be the best pitch you see” so swing away. We hired a hitting coach who appears from the fans perspective to preach this mantra. We have a pitching coach who hasn’t improved our young pitchers, and some of the veterans have regressed in some cases. Buck, previously has seemingly outstayed his welcome in previous stops at Texas, New York, and Arizona.(I Wonder if this is because he had strong opinions on whom to acquire, let walk, etc.). I question his ability to help construct a staff and personal on the 25 man roster if he has input. Adding players and coaches that are only seemingly are one dimensional, with out addressing your weakness is what is truly frustrating. Where are pitchers who are the work horses, runners who steal bases, hitters who work counts, players that bunt?

    So what responsibility does Buck have in the types of players acquired over the past few years that have supplemented our core? What about who is responsible for the rule 5’s being kept on a roster for the whole year even though they have handcuffed us most of the time.

    Thanks,
    Greg

  14. jkneps63

    May 30, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    DEAR BUCK: How about giving Trey Mancini a frigging day off? And then please resign as manager. Thanks!

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

To Top