If Oriole fans were counting on Matt Wieters to single-handedly carry the team back to the top of the baseball heap; the results so far have been nothing short of heartbreaking. Coming off a solid 2009 at the major league level, which found Wieters hitting his stride as the season ended, the carryover has been non-existent in 2010. Wieters is part of a team-wide regression that has occurred at the same time to all the young players that were counted on to start bringing the Orioles into contention. Wieters, along with Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold have all seemingly fallen off a cliff from where they were just last year.
In the case of Wieters, being pegged as the savior of the franchise-right or wrong-has done him no favors. He probably has faced a lot of pressure as he was brought up in the middle of last season and was primarily responsible for bringing in a large crowd on his first night. His meteoric rise through the minors seemed to promise instant success as soon as he stepped up in the majors. That he is in the midst of struggles now shouldn’t be surprising, except for the fact that expectations were high for improvement. There may be a few reasons for Wieters being less than a baseball Jesus.
Not every young player who passes through the minors at a rapid rate continues his success on a constant upward trajectory. Not every player can come in right away and become like Derek Jeter. Wieters may be more the norm than the exception-in his case, it may simply be that pitchers have figured him out and now he has to adjust. The question, of course, is will he? Whatever you may think of Terry Crowley, you have to wonder what he is telling Wieters, or for that matter, any of the young struggling hitters on the O’s. At some point, and it can’t happen soon enough, a player with Wieters’s gifts will eventually figure it out-or at least the organization and its fans hope he does. There is even some sentiment that he be sent back down to Triple-A to see if he can get himself straightened out at the lower level and bring that confidence back to the major leagues, though interim manager Juan Samuel disagrees with that notion.
Was Wieters, in retrospect, brought up too soon? At the time he was promoted to the big club, he had proven he could hit all levels of minor league pitching; so it was time to see what he could do at the big league level. Now that he has faltered, should he be allowed to figure it out or does he need to go back and build his confidence up? Sending Reimold down hasn’t exactly worked for him, so would it even work for Wieters? I believe that Wieters has to figure it out; I don’t think sending him down will prove anything at this point.