Sitting at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Saturday night and watching the Baltimore Orioles help cure what has been ailing the Chicago Cubs got me thinking about the future of the home team. The non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching and as fans are aware, major changes loom at the end of the 2018 season.
The Orioles have contracts expiring both after this season and next season and face major decisions.
As of this morning (Sunday, July 16th), the Orioles are 42-48, 5.0 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. They sit 5.0 games behind the New York Yankees in the race for the second Wild Card spot in the American League; 5 teams stand between the Orioles and the Yankees for that spot.
Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette has proclaimed the team will be buyers as the deadline approaches (story). In my opinion, the allure of that second wild card promotes this type of misguided thinking. I don’t know about you but I am not interested in seeing this team sign a marginal player or two to maybe make the wild card. I know, the retort is “you just have to make the tournament”. Sorry fans, this is not a playoff caliber team and I for one am not interested in seeing a one-and-done just like we did in 2016.
Allow me to play General Manager for a moment and look at what the future of this team could look like. Keep in mind, the Yankees went with youth last year and has had some success.
Right now I would trade both Zach Britton and Brad Brach for prospects; Britton would have to bring 4 prospects in return based on the Cubs-Chicago White Sox trade for Carlos Quintana. Brach would bring lesser prospects but that’s okay. You could replace them with Chris Lee and Tanner Scott or even Richard Rodriguez. The one caveat to this is that these players need to be assured that they are up here to stay. The Norfolk shuttle has to play on these pitcher’s minds; if they’re thinking that if they don’t do well or they’re sent down cannot be conducive to success.
I previously proposed an outfield of Adam Jones, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays Read it HERE and I stand by that. Release or trade Hyun-Soo Kim since you are not playing him much. Seth Smith’s contract is up at the end of this season so he could be let go.
Catcher could be a sticky position as Welington Castillo has a player option for 2018. His opting to stay here an additional season would hinder Chance Sisco’s progress to the big club. He could be traded by the deadline if you wanted to go full youth movement, however.
I would also let JJ Hardy walk at the end of the season as it looks like his vesting option will not kick in; injuries have left him a shell of his former self. I would then move Manny Machado to shortstop and promote Drew Dosch from the Norfolk Tides.
This infusion of youth could breathe some new life into the club and rejuvenate our veterans. Baseball would be fun and exciting in Baltimore for sure.
So to recap, here’s what I have:
Outfielders: Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and reluctantly, Joey Rickard
Designated Hitter: Mark Trumbo
1B; Chris Davis
2B: Jonathan Schoop
SS: Manny Machado
3B: Drew Dosch
Catcher: Chance Sisco, Caleb Joseph
Pitchers: Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Chris Lee
Relievers: Tanner Scott, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens
That leaves 7 spots on the 25-man roster that can be filled for 2018 either by free agent signings or with some of “our guys” (Miguel Castro, Richard Bleier, Donnie Hart). More youth options could be evaluated during Spring Training in 2018.
For right now, I give Chris Lee and Tanner Scott a chance and bring the rest of the Baby Birds up in 2018. This team needs to get younger and they can’t do much worse than what the team is doing right now. Realistically, this team is not a playoff team and we need to admit that and move to the future. It may hurt for a bit but it will be worth it in the end.
I’d like to hear what you fans think. Youth (and if so, whom), stand pat or buy?