Thursday, July 22, 2010

5 Biggest Disappointments for the 2010 Baltimore Orioles

The problems with the Orioles in 2010 have been multifold. But some of the season's disappointments have been greater than the others and contributed more to this disappointing season than the others. After some examination, here are the depressing top 5.

5.  Brian Roberts' Injury

Although many of us bloggers raised red flags when the Orioles signed Brian Roberts to a 4-year, $40 million extension last season (some of us, before the fact), I don't think any of us expected age and/or injury to start catching up to Roberts so fast.

Roberts being sidelined early in the season with a variety of back problems hobbled the Orioles' struggling offense even more as a brutal rotation of leadoff hitters tried desperately to fill in. Oriole leadoff hitters have combines for a .302 OBP and .645 OPS.

Roberts could return as early as this weekend but fans have to wonder about his durability and effectiveness as he plays through the 3.5 years left on his contract.

4. Adam Jones' Glove

Adam Jones has had his struggles at the plate this season but has come around of late and, I feel, he'll be just fine in the long run at the plate. Despite his Gold Glove last season, Jones is not showing a great glove in center. He plays shallow and repeatedly let's balls go over his head. He takes bad routes on balls. He sometimes misplays the routine.

Jones, in terms of UZR, is the 3rd worst fielding centerfielder in baseball. UZR does not always tell the whole story, especially for partial seasons, but last season he has the third worst UZR/150 among regular centerfielders as well.

The most frustrating thing about this is that Jones has all the tools: great speed, great leaping ability, an arm that rivals that of Nick Markakis. But he just hasn't put it together in the field this season.

3. Nolan Reimold

After a breakout year in which he forced himself onto the Baltimore roster way ahead of schedule, Nolan Reimold fell off a cliff. Hitting .279/.365/.466 over 104 games during his rookie campaign, Reimold attracted serious Rookie of the Year consideration before having to have surgery on his Achilles tendon toward the end of the season.

I don't believe that Reimold was completely healthy to start the season as he hit an anemic .205/.302/.337 with Baltimore before a May 12th demotion. But being back in Norfolk has not helped matters as he has only .212/.303/.335 since his return and shows no sign of coming around. Reimold has been playing some first base for the Tides and, perhaps, if he is fully healthy in 2011, he could still fulfill some of that promise while filling a need for Baltimore. But that looks like a real longshot at this point.

2. Brian Matusz

Continuing the theme of disappointing young talent, Brian Matusz has yet to become the staff ace that he was predicted to be when he was promoted to Baltimore late last season. Sure, he was a bit rushed to the majors and, sure, I expected him to struggle a bit at the beginning of the season. But as the most polished member of "the Calvary", I thought Matusz would have started showing some life by now. He hasn't.

Matusz's changeup, his best pitch, gets hit pretty hard. His strikeouts are down and walks are up, neither to a great degree but they aren't moving in the right direction. Granted, his FIP and xFIP are significantly better than his 5.21 ERA. But while Tillman, Arrieta and Bergesen were kind of expected to scuffle through this season, Matusz was expected to be a respectable pitcher by now. He's not and he needs help to get there.

1. Matt Wieters

The most highly touted catching prospect since Joe Mauer, one of the most praised minor league bats of all time, one of the few prospects that basically had no criticism from any scout or analyst about his offensive game, Matt Wieters has been a anemic bat in the Oriole lineup. After a torrid September, many were predicting a breakout season for Wieters (including me). Predictions called for average, power and great control of the strike zone. It hasn't happened.

Only Jason Kendall, Yadier Molina and Russell Martin have lower ISO's among catchers. Ditto for average. Only A.J. Pierzynski has a lower OBP.

Were all the scouts wrong? I don't think so (or at least, I hope not). But Wieters' struggles are the latest indictment of Terry Crowley's work with young hitters. Jones hasn't advanced much. Wieters has struggled. Reimold floundered. It seems that hitters develop in spite of Crowley rather than because of him.

Wieters needs help to get his head back on straight. A new coaching staff could do wonders for that.

1 comment:

Steve G. said...

Yeah, all of the failures of the Orioles players to develop once they hit the Major League level seems like an indictment of the coaching staff to me. Wieters, Tillman and Matusz all dominated the minors to a certain extent, yet none have shown consistency in the majors at all.