Like fellow Orioles fan/writer Lawrence Barreca said, the Felix Pie experiment is coming to an end in Baltimore, luckily for us Oriole fans.
Like Lawrence, when Pie was acquired for LHP Garrett Olson and minor leaguer Henry Williamson, I was anxious to see an exciting experience with Pie.
Because I follow the Minors, I knew a lot about Pie. I knew he was a consistent .300 minor league hitter, but never really got a legitimate chance to log any at bats with the Cubs.
I was actually excited to get Pie, a .223 career hitter going into the season. He had the speed and defense, but never hit for the high average to make him a mainstay in the Chicago Cubs talented outfield.
It seemed ideal for him to be here. The O’s had Nick Markakis, a developing superstar, in right field, and Adam Jones, also a guy who had great potential, in center. Luke Scott was a pretty bad left fielder, to put it nicely, in 2008.
Lou Montanez was also a guy who could fill that role in left, but is a 27-year old who has spent his entire career in the minors.
One of the O’s top prospects, Nolan Reimold, projected as a future left fielder, but hadn’t played a game in Triple A going into the year.
The O’s decided to keep Scott on the roster as the starting designated hitter, pencil Pie in as the starting left fielder and send Montanez and Reimold down to the minors.
While I would’ve liked to see Montanez start the year with the club, I understood it. The O’s are a team rebuilding, so, naturally, there are going to be experiments.
For example, with the Baltimore Ravens, they rebuilt last year, and rookie quarterback Joe Flacco was an experiment. He happened to work out perfectly.
Pie didn’t even start on Opening Day, and got his first action the second game of the season, against Chien Ming Wang and the New York Yankees. Pie went just 0-for-3, but showed some good plate discipline. The next game, he went 2-for-4 with a steal.
It seemed as if we were witnessing a great player in the making. He was rusty defensively, but that was natural knowing he was a natural center fielder playing left field.
Pie has a long swing, and he and hitting coach Terry “The Crow” Crowley have been working on it all season long.
His stroke has been shortened a bit, but it doesn’t seem to be helping him. In 51 at bats, he has eight hits, totaling a .157 batting average, has no doubles, no triples, one home run, two RBI and an almost comical .461 OPS.
I’ll admit Felix has had his moments. He hit a home run against the Rangers, had a two hit game against the Chicago White Sox last week, but that seems to be about it.
He’ll have an occasional shining moment, but in a 162-game season, an occasional shining moment won’t amount to anything.
We Orioles fans all remember the experiment we knew as Adam Jones last year. Jones was the Seattle Mariners top prospect going into the 2008 season until being traded to the Orioles as a piece of a six player trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle.
Jones was rusty in April, hitting just .263 at month’s end. However, he showcased the great defense, and while he never would get a three or four hit game, he would consistently get on base every single day.
Pie has logged one or more hits in just four of twenty games he’s played in. So, when I hear the Jones-Pie comparison, I sit back and laugh.
I also hear Pie to Nick Markakis comparisons. You see the player Markakis is today, and you wouldn’t believe that Nick was hitting just .245 through April of 2006, his rookie season.
However, Markakis was a 22-year old who was three years separated from being a pitcher in college. Pie played seven seasons in the minors, and Markakis, like Jones, was amazing in the outfield.
Pie has looked lost in left field. He has been judging fly balls incorrectly, has looked nervous chasing down ground balls, and is slow to chase down grounders in the gap.
Markakis, on the other hand, hustles to get every ball, leads the league in outfield assists and consistently makes diving catches that Pie wouldn’t. That comparison is a knee slapper.
It’s not like the O’s are out of options in left. Nolan Reimold, the O’s No. 5 overall prospect, is tearing up Triple A. After going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI tonight, he has eight home runs, 24 RBI, a .413 batting average, and 1.289 OPS on the season.
While the O’s want to give Pie some kind of chance, they’ve given him his at bats, and in getting Pie, they aren’t being very loyal to Reimold, who has obviously used the acquisition of Pie as motivation.
I’m not one to rant my own players, but the O’s need to bring up Reimold – now. The O’s are rebuilding, and Reimold is part of that process.
I know team president Andy MacPhail doesn’t want to rush Nolan, but he is, after all, dominating Triple A, as shown by his .413 average and eight homers.
It’s very complicated in left field, to say the least. The O’s have four guys who could man that spot right now in Pie, Scott, Montanez, and Reimold.
Frankly, Reimold is the best man for the job regardless of the fact that he has not played a game in the major leagues.
Reimold would immediately provide that power presence in left field they have been missing all season long, as Pie has two career home runs. Get this: Felix Pie has eight hits on the year.
Nolan Reimold has eight home runs. Felix Pie has a .461 OPS. Nolan Reimold has a .482 OBP. Felix Pie, advertised as a base stealer, is 1-for-3 in stolen base attempts. Reimold, advertised as a slugger, is 4-for-4 in swiped bags.
I know there are factors involved. Do we really want to get rid of Pie for good? If we were to get rid of Pie, he’d have to go through waivers, as he is out of options. It may not be simple for the O’s management, but it is for me.
Reimold has breezed through the O’s system, and at 25, is a lot more developed than Pie, 23. The O’s are in a tough situation, but by keeping Pie, they’re making it harder on themselves.