When the Orioles acquired Felix Pie from the Chicago Cubs prior to the ’09 season they we taking a shot on a once highly regarded prospect who had failed to live up to potential in the Windy City. The Orioles still liked the tools that Pie had shown in the minors and perhaps a change of scenery would be just what he needed to make good on his ability. Plus the Orioles needed outfield depth and wanted to move Luke Scott to DH, leaving LF up for grabs.
For the first half of the ’09 season it appeared that Pie was not up to the task and would be another 5 tool prospect who failed to live up to expectations. Pie batted just .234 prior to the All-Star break, while striking out more than a fourth of the time he came to the plate (27 in 107 AB’s). Not only was he a hole in the O’s line-up, Pie also looked lost in LF. His poor defensive play really drew ire from Orioles fans, who might have looked past his slow start at-bat, but Pie was billed as a plus defender in CF. Pie, it seemed, had little to offer to the Orioles at bat and in the field and he eventually lost his starting job to Nolan Reimold.
While Pie rode the bench there were bits of information being leaked that Terry Crowley felt Pie was making progress with his swing in their side sessions together. It was an unfortunate injury to Adam Jones that allowed O’s fans to see that Crowley was right. Pie was making progress and his bat came to life. Over the 2nd half of the season Pie hit .290, had an OBPS of .843, hit 7 home-runs and drove in 21 in 145 at bats. And he hit for the cycle, a feat only accomplished by 3 other Orioles. Pie showed that perhaps he was going to make good on his considerable potential.
The question for O’s fans in 2010 is which Pie will we get? To a large extent Pie’s production will be based on how much playing time Trembley can find for him. Unless Reimold is slowed by his Achilles injury, Pie is still the 4th OF’er. Pie could serve in a platoon with Reimold, but how many AB’s will Trembley take from 2110 Eutaw St? I think what will likely happen is that Pie, Scott and Reimold will be platooned between the DH and LF positions, allowing all 3 to get a fair number of plate appearances and allowing Pie to give the Orioles a better defensive OF. Depth is a good problem to have. Trembley just needs to find the right buttons to push and put each player in the match-up they can most take advantage of. Pie got off to a good start in his fist 2 AB’s this spring with a home-run and a triple. Let’s hope his bat makes it hard to keep him out of the line-up.