The All-Star Break has given Baltimore fans a chance to lick their wounds, take a break, and cast their eyes on the second half of the season or the upcoming Ravens season. In these few days, however, there are so many little stories going around about the team that deserve some mention as we gear up for the rest of the summer. Ty Wiggington’s uncomfortable appearance last night in the All-Star game, Brian Roberts’ upcoming return to the majors, Buck Showalter’s continued flirtation with the O’s front office, and Mike Gonzalez’s continued attempt to prove his signing wasn’t a complete bust by Baltimore are all featured here in some All-Star Break News and Notes.
-When I saw Ty Wiggington suit up for the Orioles last night during the All-Star game and take his spot at third base, I didn’t quite have the slight swelling of pride I do when an Oriole takes the field in the All-Star game. I have come out and said that I don’t think every team deserves an All-Star, and it’s true that Ty Wiggington nor any Oriole belonged among the elite in the American League. But if every team is supposed to have a representative, why couldn’t it be someone who truly represents the organization? I mean, Ty Wiggington was brought here as a two year bargain player, and while he has been worth his contract this season he doesn’t scream “Orioles” to me. Bring in Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, or one of the other home-grown players (I know Adam Jones came from Seattle, but he’s all Oriole now).
-Speaking of which- had Brian Roberts played this season as he usually does, he probably would have been Baltimore’s All-Star representative by default. As it stands, the O’s lead-off man hasn’t played at all this season, and the team hasn’t exactly been getting vintage Roberts production out of the lead-off spot. Corey Patterson has been good, but he is Corey Patterson. So far Roberts has played two games for the GCL Orioles as he makes his slow climb back to the majors. Incidentally, this is the furthest he’s gotten before one of his setbacks so there are reasons to think that he may finally rejoin the club. However, I wouldn’t bet your house on it- personally I expected him to opt for surgery or just shut things down for the season. With all of his recurring injuries this season and the poor play of the team I certainly wouldn’t blame him. If Felix Pie can keep up his stroke at the plate and Luke Scott comes back streaking from the DL, the Orioles might start to look how fans expected them to in April, at least on the roster sheet.
-The Buck Showalter Watch continues as we await word in the coming days (weeks?) as to whether the notoriously controlling former Yankees, Rangers, and Diamondbacks manager awaits an offer to become the next manager of the Orioles. As I have said before, he’s the right man for the job if Andy MacPhail can handle giving up a bit of control over personnel decisions. He has rebuilt team after team and while he can grate on his players, they have become winners under his watch. The only knock on him is that his teams tend to make the next leap after he leaves, but personally I will be happy if the Orioles can make the first leap. At least for once the team isn’t looking to hire the first interim manager who gets a bump in production from his players. Juan Samuel may be a great manager down the road, but I am not handing him the keys to this team.
-Mike Gonzalez has allowed 3 home runs in 10 innings so far during his rehab stints at Bowie, Aberdeen, and the GCL, but only has a 3.27 ERA to this point. His velocity appears to be back up, but Gonzalez is going to have a lot to prove once he gets back to Baltimore. Not only did he implode in each of his three save attempts in Baltimore (he got one of them but it wasn’t pretty), he denied he was feeling any discomfort until it was too late to do anything but put him on the shelf for a long time. He hurt the team and put them in a very uncomfortable situation as they scrambled to find a closer from in-house. In fact, the first report I heard on the injury happened here on BSR, when Luke Scott commented off-hand on some discomfort that Gonzalez was feeling. Gonzo will not be handed the closer’s job, and if I was Juan Samuel I would only bring him onto the 40-man to replace someone who is a serial underachiever (Matt Albers?) or just belongs at Norfolk (Frank Mata?). Stick him in middle relief and hope he can get things done there, perhaps Baltimore can salvage a season and a half from him.