Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reviewing the 2015 Orioles Season

Autumn has definitely arrived. The leaves are beginning to change and fall from the trees. Various animals have been seen in the yard stocking up on the acorns falling from the oak trees. 

It is also the time of year when the 20 MLB teams that did not make the post-season do a self-assessment and try to make sense of their finish.

Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette
I reviewed the commends of Dan Duquette, the General Manager, from yesterday's news conference on the 2015 season and the future. He was fairly uninspiring and continues to tote the organizational line regarding players, salaries, and finances. I was not encouraged by his comments. 

Here is my view:

Last off season, coming off a 2014 campaign that saw the Orioles win the American League East division and narrowly miss playing in the World Series, the job was to keep the team together for a successful 2015 run. In the end, three key players were in play: Andrew Miller, a lefty relief pitcher; Nelson Cruz the long-ball hitter, and Nick Markakis the long-time right fielder for the Orioles. Duquette lost all three!

Nick Markakis
I believe that the Orioles overcame the loss of Miller and Cruz, but the loss of Markakis and failing to acquire a right fielder with an arm and a bat is directly responsible for the team not making the playoffs. In Markakis the team lost a lead-off hitter who made good contact and got on base as well as one of the most feared right fielder arms in all of baseball--especially in playing the difficult corners on Orioles Park at Camden Yards (OPACY). OPACY is tough on right fielders and I watched many of the replacements misplay balls and then fail to have enough arm strength to keep runners from advancing home when rounding third base.

The task for this off season is even greater and more important to the Orioles. The Orioles have more free-agents and less depth. Here is my three-step recipe for 2016 Orioles success:

1. Retain Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, and Darren O'Day. Catcher Matt Wieters is also a free agent and it would be nice but not critical to retain him, too. 

2016 Goal!
2. Here is the harder part, in addition to keeping the big three (Davis, Chen, and O'Day) the Orioles need an ace pitcher--it would be great to have someone on the staff who can win 16 or more games a season.

3.  AND the Orioles still need a real right fielder and lead-off batter.

I'm not going to postulate who the Orioles should be going after, I looked at the free agents lists and there is no clear pitcher out there. The right fielder could be someone like Colby Rasmus, but he's only batting .238.

It is a tall order for the Orioles--but their 2016 success depends upon it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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