Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Yawner in Washington; Staying the Course: Felipe Lopez?

After a huge series at Wrigley Field, where they took two of three from the Cubs -- the Baltimore Orioles returned home -- sort of, as they played a road game down in the Nation's Capital last night.

It rained and poured literally before the game, but after a brief delay, the Orioles and Nationals tangoed in the second round of the Battle of Beltway. Baltimore looked flat and very lethargic, and in the end they would lose the NL's worst team, Washington, 4-2, last night.

In a game full errors and miscues on the field, along with looking woeful at the plate; Daniel Cabrera was serviceable -- not good -- as he got charged for two runs in the both the first and seventh innings to fall to 5-4 on the year. Besides those two innings, he looked fine, but was hittable on the night.

In a lineup not featuring Aubrey Huff -- by in large, the team's hottest hitter and Luke Scott, the Orioles offense suffered. Nick Markakis and Brandon Fahley drove in runs for Baltimore, but they just could not get the engine going.


Despite the Orioles taking the Cubs series at Wrigley Field, where they caused the Cubs to lose their first series at home for the year, Baltimore to repeat again and again has been a pleasant surprise.

With the loss yesterday in Washington, they are currently 40-38, two games over .500 and 8 are games out, but most fans would be fooling themselves if they thought Baltimore was a contending team. I don't want to sound crass, rude or raining on the parade -- but the reality is that the Orioles are playing way above their heads.

Despite Huff, Roberts, and Markakis' numbers, the fact remains this team has a lot of holes -- (i.e., shortstop -- Brandon Fahey starting??), an inconsistent starting staff staffed by mostly youngsters, and a lineup stuff devoid of power.

If the Orioles are still contention by the All-Star break, Andy MacPhail should wheel and deal -- for the future -- not to contend for a pennant. As much I would love to see the team in the playoffs, the fact of the matter is, this still is probably not even halfway through their rebuilding job.

This notion might be unpopular, but if we have to deal one of our key guys (outside of Markakis and Roberts), it should be done if we can get quality in return. We need a shortstop, more pitching, a power bat, an offensive first baseman and more for the future.

Don't be swayed by the record right now, Andy MacPhail must stay the course.

The winning is nice, but we have to be realistic.

The other big news to come out in the past few days are the rumors of Felipe Lopez coming to Washington.

You don't want to know what I though when heard the news.
From Fox Sports: The Orioles, desperately seeking a shortstop, have engaged in substantive conversations with the Nationals about a trade for infielder Felipe Lopez, according to major league sources.

The Nationals reportedly are close to signing shortstop Cristian Guzman to a two-year contract extension for an unknown dollar amount and are unlikely to retain Lopez as a free agent after this season.

In return for Lopez, the Nationals likely would receive a marginal minor-league prospect.

The Orioles have been looking for help at shortstop ever since trading Miguel Tejada to the Astros last off-season.

Lopez is hitting .247 with 25 runs and 20 RBI.

If a deal is completed, it likely would not be announced until after the completion of the Orioles-Nationals series this weekend in Washington, sources say.
Lopez had some good numbers in Cincinnati -- perhaps because of the bandbox there -- but he's been nothing short of a bust in Washington. Besides his numbers at the plate, the infielder has been seen as nothing but a grouse by the media, and his play on the field has left nothing to be desired.

I thought he might have made a good candidate to be traded to Baltimore when the season began; however, he could be a bad seed on a Baltimore team that fosters hard play, respect, following the rules, and playing 100%.

He's not done that with the Nationals.

Simply put, he definitely needs a change of scenery and he might be re-energized in Baltimore, but in this case -- if the Orioles do trade for him (IMO, they should not) -- buyer beware!

Before I go, I'll have more on the awesome time I had at Wrigley Field perhaps starting on Monday. I'll say, I have nothing but respect for the Cubs fans and how the majority of them treated us from Birdland. They did a great job in making us welcome, by chatting with us, and conversing in baseball; however, they showed incredible passion for their team, and their ballpark -- just beautiful, pristine, and full of life.

In a day where ballparks have emulated rock concerts or stuff you'd see in the NBA, it was nice to see a park use minimalist bells and whistles to get the crowd going. Wrigley is simple -- you focus on eyes on the game, the crowd, and not the exploding fireworks, large LCD screen, places to go galore. I appreciated that at Wrigley, and that's why I put it in the upper echelon of ballparks I have ever visited.

I have a lot to do this weekend, and I'm doing the series in D.C. against Baltimore.

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