My predictions were wrong. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles plan to have infielder Jonathan Schoop on their Opening Day roster. Schoop will reportedly be used at both second and third base and will split time with Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty.
That’s a bit of a head scratcher for me.
The future is bright for Schoop. He hit .385/.432/.667 this spring and that’s admittedly impressive — even if it was against sub-par pitching. But at 22 years old, shouldn’t he be getting consistent at bats? If he’s splitting time at two positions, I have to assume that won’t be the case.
I’ve seen some people applaud the Orioles for ignoring the service time clock and putting the best team on field. But is anyone really sure that having a guy with 15 plate appearances in the big leagues on the Opening Day roster is the best decision for the club?
I’m not. And I thought that last week’s acquisition of Steve Lombardozzi for Alex Gonzalez signified that the O’s weren’t either.
Maybe this move says more about the Orioles concern for Manny Machado‘s health. If Machado is on the disabled list for longer than the month or so that I’m expecting, perhaps it makes the most sense for the Orioles to shuffle their infield with Schoop, Lombo and Flash. If that’s not the case, I really don’t get it.
Who’s the odd man out when Machado returns? If Schoop, the franchise’s fifth-best prospect according to Baseball America, struggles in the first month of the season and Machado returns, do you send him down to Triple-A and hope he finds his way? Or is he expected to learn at the big league level at this point?
And what about Flaherty? Last season, Flash started ice cold, hitting .125/.210/.232 in the first month of the season, but when Brian Roberts went down he had consistent playing time at second base and hit .297/.333/.486 in June. They B-Rob returned and Flaherty bounced around as a pinch hitter or fill-in infielder. After a solid spring of his own (.297/.351/.529), I wanted to see Flaherty at second base for a month or so to see if June was for real or not.
There’s so many questions with this move and I’m wondering how they’ll all be answered. It’s great that the Orioles young infielder is making this decision so difficult, I just hope the Orioles put the best team on the field on Monday.
Image Credit: Keith Allison