Thursday, July 14, 2011

As the Orioles Head Into the Second Half...

In a few hours, the Baltimore Orioles embark on the second half of the 2011 season. Right now, they have fallen hard and seemingly are having trouble getting up.

They are in the midst of a seven game losing skid and are looking to snap it against the Cleveland Indians tonight at Camden Yards. For us fans, it seems the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same.

The Orioles are improved from last year – YES! – however, I’m sure we all expected so much more from this team.

The starting pitching has been piss poor in the last month, hitters aren’t doing much and you’ve got to wonder – if and when help will be coming. Brian Roberts is hurt – and much like last year, his presence in the lineup is missed.

Not to rail on J.J. Hardy – who has filled in nicely at the top of the lineup – but Roberts brings some intangibles missing on the team now (mainly, speed and a very good batting eye).

Of course, we all know of the struggles of Derrek Lee and Vladmir Guerrero, two players way past their prime; plus, Mark Reynolds in the field and Nick Markakis; however, the most troubling of the Orioles’ struggles is with the pitching staff – plain and simple.

At least in 2010, we knew the team was *bad*, but even with the talent level on this squad this season, it seems not much has changed.

Looking at the team right now, it's got very little depth, the bullpen is being over-exposed, and you have to wonder where the help will be coming from next. The Orioles have been plagued by injuries and their young pitching has not taken a big step forward. In fact, it's more like regression.

The lack of starting depth is absolutely killing this team. No disrespect to anyone, but when Chris Jakubauskas, Alfredo Simon and Mitch Atkins are a glimmer of hope in a starting rotation, you’ve got problems.

The Orioles are looking very thin right now with their pitching staff and some experienced arms could have helped to stop some bleeding. Really, I hoped the team would have signed at least one or two more veteran pitchers in the off-season.

We all know the struggles of Jeremy Guthrie and while Jake Arrieta has racked up the wins, his ERA is under five and he’s too been hit hard as of late. Meanwhile, Brad Bergesen has been buried in the bullpen after his lackluster pitching and both Brian Matusz along with Chris Tillman – who were considered cornerstones of the Oriole rebuilding program – are in the minors right now. Obviously, the idea of going with a rotation full of youngsters and veteran Jeremy Guthrie serving as a defacto ace has failed so far.

The talent just isn’t there within the organization to win at the moment.

The only thing I can say right now is maybe – somehow – that some of progress we saw under Buck Showalter reappears in the second half. Who knows if that will happen, but we have to wish for something, right?

I still see some hope with the Orioles, despite everything. They have to continue down the long road of rebuilding, draft well, look into other markets for talents and have a commitment to winning – not mediocrity. They have a good leader on the field with Buck Showalter; however, it remains to be seen if Andy MacPhail stay on-board this season after this season.

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