Orioles Round-Up

I haven’t seen an entire Oriole game start-to-finish in a while unfortunately, or posted anything about the team. Got bits and pieces of various games though, and have been following some news. Some assorted thoughts:

The Record:

The O’s are now on pace to win 91 games instead of 100, which is still fine. They’ve been outscored on the season 246-250, but they’re still playing well enough overall to have some hope of finishing over .500 at the end of the year. Swtich the order of the games around a little, and fans would be more excited to be tied for first place in the AL East in June instead of all worried.

The Draft:

I was hoping that shortstop Carlos Correa would fall to #4, but the Houston Astros popped him with the #1 overall pick. With three position players off the board, the Orioles had their choice of pitchers and selected college right-hander Kevin Gausman. I’d generally lean away from picking pitchers early, but taking a position player just for the sake of taking a position player doesn’t make sense either and Gausman was considered by many to be the top pitcher in the draft. And hey, I do like a guy who can get both whiffs and groundballs.

It would have been nice to see the O’s go for a little more upside in later rounds, with the idea of perhaps signing Gausman under slot and parlaying the savings into going overslot later (they may have done this to a small degree with a couple picks). Drafting relievers is anathema to me, but it sounds like the O’s are planning to try all/most of them (including second round pick Branden Kline) in the rotation first. So, assuming all the important guys sign, it seems like it was a good but perhaps not great draft.

The Injuries:

Nick Markakis being out for a month hurts, certainly, but he’s at 0.0 fWAR this year to begin with, and even as a 2.5 win player the team only loses a half-win or so. Hopefully last night’s game is an indication that Buck won’t keep batting Endy Chavez AND Robert Andino at the top of the line-up (that’s a lot of outs from spots where you need guys to get on base, and a lot of extra plate appearances handed to guys who can’t really hit).

Having half the line-up sometimes being Chavez (.166 wOBA), Andino (.281 wOBA), Steve Tolleson (.288 wOBA), Ryan Flahery (.203 wOBA), and Ronny Paulino (.295 wOBA) is brutal. Can’t win if you don’t score.

The Cold Streaks:

Matt Wieters started the year on a tear, but has hit just .181/.271/.277 since that game in Boston when he caught all 17 innings. His BABIP in May was .225, which goes nicely with his 9.6% line-drive rate (which is, to put it lightly, really bad).

Adam Jones is 5-24 (all singles) with 0 walks in June so far. Not that that is a big deal (just 6 games), but if he’s not going to keep hitting a .400+ wOBA clip then the team is going to have some trouble scoring runs in the near term.

Jake Arrieta is 1-5 with 7.96 ERA in his last 6 games (prompting some people to suggest he be sent to the minors). His control hasn’t been the best over that stretch (4 BB/9 – due in part to 4 walks in 4.2 IP his last time out), but that’s not completely atrocious and he’s still striking out batter (8 K/9, and his overall whiff rate has gone from 16% misses on swings to 23%). Arrieta’s BABIP against is .364 and he’s given more home runs that you’d expect given his groundball tendencies. Yeah, he needs to issue fewer free passes, but he’ll be fine. He does appear to be throwing more four-seamers than two-seamers recently – perhaps to throw strikes? – but that might just be coincidence.

The Signings:

Jamie Moyer? Really? Beyond all the age stuff, he wasn’t all that effective in the National League this year (for Colorado, sure, but still) – how is he going to pitch in the AL East?

I honestly had no idea Lew Ford was even in this country before the O’s signed him. His .382/.434/.592 line in Triple-A this year comes courtesy of a .448 BABIP (.302 career in the Majors). He hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2007, or posted an above average batting line since 2004. And he’s 35 years old.

Nate McLouth is only 30 and actually hit as recently as 2009 (.256/.352/.436), so there is that. He’s done precisely bupkis for the Pirates this year though (29% strike-out rate, .205 BABIP, no power)

The Cavalry:

Much to my surprise, not only is Brian Roberts playing baseball this year, but he’s doing a half-decent job of it (.267/.378/.533 in 11 minor league games). 6 of his 8 hits have gone for extra-bases (5 doubles and a homer), and he has 6 walks to 6 strike-outs. We’ll see if he can keep that up at Triple-A for an extended period of time, but perhaps he really can help the team a little bit this year (though I’m still not sure that, when accounting for defense, that he’d outplay Robert Andino).

Again, to my slight surprise, Zach Britton might actually make it up before the All-Star break. He only has 18 IP in the minors so far (13 K, 5 BB, 1 H), but replacing a Tommy Hunter with a (hopefully) healthy Zach Britton could be pretty good.

Chris Tillman is striking out batters more frequently than he has in years (8.7 K/9) while not walking the park (3.5 BB/9). He could be a decent shot in the arm for the rotation if/when someone gets hurt/tired.