Several times this past season I have written posts that in some form or fashion says to Orioles fans, “Step back from the panic button.” But each time I have additionally also said something to the effect of, “But make note as to where the button is placed.”
We need to have a balance of micro-analysis and macro-analysis when looking at the Baltimore Orioles. With short-term winning streaks, there is a tendency of fans to become overly optimistic. Yet the same thing occurs with short-term losing stretches – emotions of fear and panic tug at the baseball fan’s psyche.
The challenge is to be balanced – to fairly look at the situation and place the short-term difficulties accurately within the long-term realities. So let’s try it …
The Orioles record on the road trip … and record since the All-Star break is 4-3 – with a sweep in Texas, yet only winning the opener of the four-game set in Kansas City. Just take the numbers “4” and “3” … adding to “7”. If a team wins four out of every seven games, that translates to a final record of 92-70. That is possibly enough to squeak into the playoffs. I can be content with this Orioles team ending the first 140 games of the season with an average of 4-3 over every 7 games … therefore bringing them to a record at that time of 80-60. That positions them for a run at the playoffs over the final 22 games. Last year they were 78-62 at this point. To make 80 wins at this juncture, they will need to go 23-14 over the next 37 games. That is doable.
Birds Watching Observations:
Matt Wieters – He has been about the hottest hitting Oriole of late. This is great to see after a lackluster offensive first half. At the same time, it is easy to forget that catchers generally don’t produce the same stellar offensive numbers as, say, the better outfielders. According to STATS, his 59 homers since the beginning of 2011 are the most in the majors. I doubt that most Orioles fans would expect to see that fact.
Henry Urrutia – I certainly don’t see any reason to not run this fellow out there as the DH pretty much every day – against lefties, righties, tighty-whities … whatever. In my mind, this guy needs to prove he cannot hit rather than the other way around (which was the story with every other Birds DH this year!). After blowing through the minors at .365 and going 7 for 20 here now in his first six games – throw him out there daily!
Manny Machado and Chris Davis – This is troubling to see the recent offensive drop-off. Yet these things are cyclical, especially for power hitters like Davis. It must drive the hitting coach crazy to finally get someone like Wieters swinging well (and Brian Roberts also), only to see the guys who carried you the first half hit a slump time. Did I ever mention that I’m not a fan of the All-Star game and its effects on players??
Pitching Overall – Apart from last night, the overall starting pitching situation gives O’s fans much encouragement over the not-too-distant past. Miguel Gonzalez has been so solid all year, I would certainly not thrown him under the bus after last evening. There is hope in the big picture that the last third of the season can match the final third of last year – even without a top-drawer acquisition. The bullpen is certainly strengthened with the addition of Francisco Rodriguez. I’ll not add more at this point to all else that has been written about him joining the squad, beyond adding that I feel Steve Melewski’s column (here) is a perfectly balanced analysis of the situation.
Hitting Overall – While a strength for most of the season, it remains true that good pitching stops the power of the Orioles’ bats. I believe the key to the remainder of the season will be how the O’s handle good pitching against them, even more than the quality of pitching they run out on the mound day after day.
So, in conclusion, 4-3 is good, and, don’t hit the panic button, but remember what drawer you’ve stored it within!