Welcome to Overreaction Of The Week, my over the top, uninhibited, Baltimore sports-fan takes on this week’s Orioles activity.
Now that the All Star Game is over, the Orioles must shift their focus to the second half of the season. The Playoffs aren’t a consideration, but what are some realistic goals for the Orioles to set?
Goal 1: Trade Veterans
Manny Machado will be traded soon, but the Orioles need to quickly refocus to move other valued veterans like Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach. Jones to the Indians seems like a fit and Britton will have his fair share of suitors. The challenge will be for Brach to regain his form and catch a contender’s eye. Back end relievers carry quite a bit of weight with contenders, so if the Orioles can capitalize on trading two of them, they should be able to come away with some decent prospects. Orioles fans should also keep the August trade deadline in mind, just in case Brach hasn’t built up his case by July 31st.
Goal 2: Build Experience
With many veteran pieces potential leaving the scene, the Orioles young players will have a tremendous opportunity to gain some experience at the Major League level. Of all the Orioles top prospects, Cedric Mullins seems like the one most likely to get an extended opportunity. He has torn up Minor League pitching this year and in my mind, has more than earned a promotion to the big leagues. If the Orioles do end up trading Adam Jones, Mullins is the perfect candidate to step into centerfield. With Machado’s departure, will we see Ryan Mountcastle? What about some of the young pitchers like Keegan Akin and Alex Wells? While I hesitate to call these games meaningless (there is a lot of money on the line for some players), I do feel like this is a golden opportunity for the Orioles to see how their young guys stack up against Major League players.
Goal 3: Secure the Number 1 Pick
The other side of allowing young players this opportunities is the likelihood that the losses keep piling up. I should say that another goal is to not have the worst record of all time, but there’s almost no chance at that. In the modern era, that record belongs to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916, they went 36-117. The Orioles will most certainly win 9 more games to avoid the record, but may still have their eyes set on the 2019 MLB Draft. They’ll battle the Royals for the first overall pick in an exciting class. As I’ve said before, the goal should never be to pick first overall, but since they’re here, the Orioles might as well do it right. The Orioles will be in the spoiler role once again, so picking up some wins against playoff teams to shake things up in the standings could be fun, as long as they don’t win too many games and push themselves down the draft board.
Yes, losing stinks. But at this point, there are opportunities for the Orioles to take advantage of. What can the front office get back for some veteran pieces and how do they fit in with a long term plan? Is there a long term plan? How do the existing farm hands stack up against established Major League talent? What are the holes on the roster that will need to be addressed during the offseason? These are all questions that can be answered in the second half for a team that doesn’t seem to have many answers at the moment. While they don’t have to go out and actively try to lose, the Orioles have afforded themselves the opportunity to tinker around and see what they have to work with for 2019 and beyond.