The word is out and about that Manny Ramirez will not be coming to Baltimore – that Duquette does not see a role for him. Excellent! It is also being reported that the VP of Baseball Operations is done making moves before Spring Training. And I am fine with that also. I’m ready to go to war with the roster we have now.
So, given the current roster, who is going to be the DH? There seems to be a sentiment that Wilson Betemit is the man. More on that in a moment, but first, let me ask the same question I did a few days ago about the DC – Designated Closer – why does it have to be one person? Why not DH by committee? Way too much is made of “knowing roles.” Let’s get back to more of a Willie Mays approach of “they throw it, I hit it; they hit it, I catch it.”
The poster boy for a DH is a big hitter, big pop stick, older, poor-fielding, career-extending, slow running, RBI producing human blob. Why does it have to be that way, especially on a team with a reasonable amount of pop throughout the lineup? Much was made at FanFest of the team thinking in terms of a different sort of hitter for DH – the high on-base percentage sort of guy, for example. (A humorous line that day, uttered at a time when this very discussion was happening, was from Orioles writer Peter Schmuck who said, “If the Orioles and Duquette are looking for a DH who doesn’t add power, I think Vlad is available!”)
This discussion, as does so much about the Orioles roster and lineup, depends upon the situation with Brian Roberts. Does anyone know where that is headed? For sure? I don’t think even Roberts knows that much (though, of course, he’s the guy with the brain injury). But it is interesting to see around Birdland that pretty much everyone is not expecting this situation to likely work out. So many of the roster moves appear to have been made with this assumption. But obviously, were Roberts to be well and playing consistently, the DH role might be less likely filled by the sort of on-base role person I am speaking about here (not that the O’s could not benefit from higher OBP everywhere).
Back to Betemit. As things stand, it makes sense that Betemit ends up being the most frequent DH … and likely in the leadoff position. Hardy commented at FanFest that he does not like batting leadoff – that he is not the proto-typical person for that rule. And that is true. So, I’ve talked myself into liking this more, even just since I started writing four paragraphs above! This makes Betemit an extremely important person on this team.
A second option to use with some frequency is when Wieters is given a day off behind the plate – to keep him in the lineup by having him at DH. I fully anticipate Matt to continue on his trajectory of improvement – such that his bat is too valuable to not have in the lineup every day. And Teagarden gives a better backup, particularly defensively, than we have seen recently. This was a good acquisition.
A third option is to involve players like Endy Chavez and Jai Miller to – as in the fashion with Wieters – give Reimold or Jones a day off in the field, while also keeping their bats in the lineup at DH.
All of this is to say that there are options – more and better possibilities than in the recent past. Last year was difficult at DH. Vlad – for all his likeable assets – did not get it done, especially for the prime spot in the lineup he was occupying. Showalter rode that horse a long way – longer than I would have (though at $8 million, I guess you have to).
Wow … OK … on that last thought, doesn’t this all make you feel better about the Orioles?
Twitter – @osayorioles