Some Clearings in the Fog

Anticipating this coming baseball season is like going down the street from Camden Yards, looking into a fog over the Inner Harbor, and trying to make out the contours of a distant ship. As the vessel draws nearer, more of the structure can be seen. And with a countdown of but a few weeks until pitchers and catchers report, some Orioles details are emerging … a few of which were elaborated upon at the FanFest event this past Saturday.

1B/3B – Showalter has largely decided and announced that he is going to go with Reynolds at third and Davis at first. He is doing this in spite of the dreadful defensive season Mark displayed at the hot corner, yet showing an excellent glove on the opposite side. I have been of the opinion that Reynolds looked so good at first that it should become his new home.

To quickly summarize Showalter’s decision, as I understand it:

  1. A closer look at Davis reveals he had as many or more defensive difficulties at third as did Reynolds.
  2. Davis has some measure of shoulder problems that raises concern in Buck’s mind that a full season of throwing across the infield will invite problems.
  3. The natural position for each is Davis at first and Reynolds at third.
  4. At this time, Reynolds’ poor showing is believed to be an anomaly unlikely to recur.
  5. Reynolds is at least 20 pounds lighter this year and presumably better fit to return to good defensive form.

Relative to the final point, Reynolds said that he fell in love with heavy weights over the off season of a year ago, adding bulk and reducing flexibility. This winter has featured a more aerobic regimen.

Conclusion – I cannot believe I am going to say this, but I am able to accept this train of logic. Though I fear it may be a slow-moving freight train, I can understand how these points have validity. In my previous blog before joining Birds Watcher, I was all over Reynolds for the errors that were simply killers on several occasions.

LF/Reimold – Though I cannot report that I have heard it with my own ears, it seems that Nolan Reimold is being given the first shot as the regular leftfielder. I massively applaud this, and hope it is true. Anyone who has read my previous writing can attest that I am a fan of Nolan Reimold. And I am not alone – it was clear from FanFest that he is very much liked. I am amazed at how often I see Reimold jerseys being worn by people even here in Western Maryland.

It is my observation that the ball jumps off his bat. This is one of those things that just sort of “happens” … some people put a swing on the ball in such a way that it “jumps.”  And likewise, certain pitchers throw a “heavy” ball. I once played with a guy like that; it felt like the ball was going to continue through your glove when it hit with a “thud” sort of impact.

But back to Reimold … He played well at the end of the season and has some definite capacity to hit in the clutch. Though an average fielder, he has speed down the line and on the bases. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard Rick Dempsey say that Nolan Reimold is the next guy on the Orioles who could hit 40 homers, well, I could at least take you and me out for Happy Meals!  I agree with Dempsey; let him play. Beyond all of this (and I’m speculating here because Nolan and I are not pals), it strikes me as a person whose career has been working with people, that he is a bit of a sensitive soul who needs the endorsement and confidence of his manager to perform at the highest levels. Platooning and being jerked around will not work.

Jim Johnson’s Role – It is pretty clearly stated at this point that Johnson is staying in the bullpen. He is a known quantity there, and with the acquisition of so many starting arms to add to the already crowded stable of horses, Johnson looks to be seen at the end of games. And if he is to stay in the bullpen, I do hope he is at the END of the game and we do not some other “chaotic” situation – if you get my drift.

Speaking of horses, Johnson is one!  The guy is freakin’ huge! As is Wieters.  Seeing these guys (Rapada also) at FanFest where they are in street clothes and next to other players, one realizes the immensity of these men.

And relative to Johnson’s role, it seems at this moment that staying in the bullpen is the simplest route forward for the Orioles’ pitching staff. Earlier in the off season, I promoted that using whatever dollars were available to secure a quality free agent reliever or two – with a view toward Johnson becoming a starter – was the best pathway to an upgrade.  (This discussion is the main idea of the next post I’ll be writing.)  But now, trying to find five starters out of the crowd of new and returning starters is likely the way to go, with Johnson as the likely closer.

Lots of Fog Remains

Well, there still is a good bit of thick haze out there over the water. I hope there is a wise plan … because, in my view, a haze in the front office becomes a dense fog on the field!

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Buck Showalter Chris Davis Clay Rapada Jim Johnson Mark Reynolds Nolan Reimold

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