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What does Steve Lombardozzi's deal mean for Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop?

Things just got a little more interesting in Sarasota.

Since 21-year-old stud Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will start the 2014 season on the disabled list, Buck Showalter‘s team has a plethora of options when it comes to laying out his infield. I have to assume that Ryan Flaherty (better known as Flash) will make the roster and get the Opening Day nod at the hot corner filling in for Machado.

Flash is slashing .310/.362/.571 this spring (for those that care about spring stats). He played all four infield positions for the Orioles in 2013, spending most of his days (65 games, 59 starts) at second base. Flaherty appeared in just seven games at third posting a 3.18 RF/9. At second base he proved to be an above average defender with a 4.91 RF/9 (4.64 was the league average).

With Flash at third, the second base job likely will come down to Jemile Weeks, Jonathan Schoop and possibly the O’s newest acquisition, Maryland-native Steve Lombardozzi.

Weeks, acquired from Oakland in the Jim Johnson deal, hasn’t turned any heads this spring with his .143/.295/.171 slashline over 44 plate appearances. The hope was (or is, I guess) that he would be able to repeat his rookie season in 2011 in which he hit .303/.340/.421 over 97 games with the A’s. So far, it’s looking like that may not happen. :(

Jonathan Schoop has every Orioles fan excited with his big spring. Big in a lot of ways actually. Apparently the Curacao native bulked up over the winter and has put together an impressive spring with that big, beautiful .400/.436/.686 slash. It’s been such a great time for Schoop down in Sarasota, that everyone thinks I’m a jerk for pointing out the pitchers he’s faced. I am a jerk, but that’s not a good enough example of why.

It would be tough to deny Schoop the starting gig at second after he clearly won the battle royale against Weeks this spring, but what happens when Machado comes back? Does Schoop keep the job at second and put Flaherty on the bench? It’s an unpopular opinion, but perhaps some consistent at-bats at Norfolk may be a good compromise — especially with the new guy in town giving the Birds another option.

New Guy is the pride of Atholton High School in Columbia, Maryland — Steve Lombardozzi. Lombo spent three seasons with the Washington Nationals before being sent to Detroit Rock City in the Doug Fister trade. He was in Lakeland with Brad Ausmus‘ club for a few weeks before packing his bags and heading to Sarasota to join the O’s. Dan Duquette sent 37-year-old infielder Alex Gonzalez to the Tigers, who are searching for a replacement for Jose Iglesias and don’t want to pay Stephen Drew, and the Orioles received our guy, Lombo.

In three seasons in D.C., Lombardozzi hit .264/.297/.342 over 755 plate appearances in 257 games. He too has experience playing around the diamond, spending 102 games at second, but receiving time at shortstop, third base and in left field. His 5.44 RF/9 over those three seasons is above the league average of 4.75.

From my perspective, it makes sense for the Orioles to send Schoop to Triple-A to receive consistent playing time and avoid starting the arbitration clock early on the 22-year-old. It might not be the most popular opinion, but I think it makes the most sense. Lombardozzi gives the Orioles another option while they take their time and wait patiently for Machado to make his triumphant return.

Image Credit: Keith Allison

About The Author

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

7 Comments

  1. This is one of those little moves that sends a team over the top. Love, love this pick up for a 37 year old guy who probably wouldn’t make the team.

    • Puts a team over the top? Are we looking at the same Steve Lombardozzi?

      This is one of those moves that hurts a team in the present but helps the bottom-line/long-term outlook. The team would in all likelihood be better off starting Schoop at 2B while Manny is out. They could still send Schoop back down after Manny returns to get him more seasoning and to extend his clock.

      Instead they’ve picked up a utility infielder who can’t hit a lick, bumping the hot hitting Schoop back down to AAA to start the season. Total business move, not a baseball move, and it won’t help the team this season. It will help the Orioles keep Schoop down in the minors for a longer time.

  2. FREE SCHOOP

    So much of what you are speculating is wrong.

    According to arbitration rules: A team can prevent a player from being arbitration eligible for one year by keeping them in the minors on Opening Day and not calling them up until after 17% of that season’s in-season callup rookies have been added to their respective rosters.

    The 24th and 25th guys on your roster are the guys that put you over the top, but given that you didn’t know the arbitration rules, I’m guessing you wouldn’t know that either.

    • Ya everyone knows that Quintin Berry and Franklin Morales were what put the Red Sox over the top….. oh wait.

  3. Personally, I don’t care about the clock. If a guy can help you win, I could care less. See Kevin Gausman, he is the real deal. Should we hold up his clock and his 15-18 wins he could give us? No way. If Schoop is the answer and can help the team, keep him and leave him. We held on to Wieters and his .224 hitting clock too….My Baltimore boy, Clevenger has beat him out this Spring…according to the Baseball Gospel, Wieters should be second string…Look, ultimately we are World Series bound. All the naysayers and all the cooks that are trying to get into Jackleen’s pants can forget it. I hope that the BSR can help me get tickets and take up donations for me to get “home” for the Series!

  4. Tyler – 25 guys on a roster, 25. All will play a part in making a team a contender for a championship. I guess you don’t like trading 37 year old shortstops, who probably wouldn’t make the team, for 25 year old second basemen who hit .273 last year?!?

    Is he an MVP? No, but could he be a nice piece on a 25 man roster that could help secure a few more wins – how many games did the Orioles miss the playoffs by last year?!?

    Short sighted fans. Probably one of the guys who wanted McPhail out of town too.

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