First Half In The Books For The Birds

Well the first half of the 2012 baseball season is in the books, and if the season ended today the Orioles would be the winners of the second Wild Card spot in the American League. Sadly though, it doesn’t end today and while the Orioles are not out of it, I fear they are not really in it either. Nonetheless the first half in Baltimore was the most exciting in many years and has proved that day in and day out, the O’s can play with anyone.

So let’s recap the first half, talk about the trading deadline, and then give the best and worst case scenarios.

 

First Half Positives

  • The Orioles bullpen has been lights out for most of the year, something that can not be said in previous years. Jim Johnson made his first All-Star team while leading the AL in saves, which to me was expected. The real surprise has been the guys who get the ball to Johnson. Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, and Darren O’Day have all been solid go to guys out of the pen for the Orioles — which has been their biggest asset thus far and we will get to why a little bit later.
  • Brian Roberts is back, thank god. After what felt like 3 years the Orioles dynamic lead off hitter is finally back in the bigs — hopefully for good. Keeping Roberts healthy for the second half is pretty much like signing a big time free agent half way through the season. No one on the Orioles gets on base a whole lot, so Roberts changes the entire line up as soon as Buck puts his name in ink before the game.
  • The Orioles have been beat up all year and for a change they have had some players step up and fill in without losing a whole lot. Steve Pearce only has 65 at bats for the Orioles but is hitting .262 with 3 home runs, not to bad for a guy who does not play every day, not to mention his solid outfield glove.
  • Chris Davis has been a HUGE bright spot in the first half and has shut a lot of people (including myself) up about whether or not he can hit in the big leagues. Will he keep it going? Hopefully, but .271 and 14 bombs is not a bad first half for a guy who was a question mark entering the year.
  • Adam Jones is here to stay, and thank god. Jones is the best all around player on the Orioles and a fan favorite. So for the front office to lock him up for the next 6 years is a huge step in the right direction.

 

First Half Negatives

 

  • Starting Pitching……shocker. 3 of the 5 players in the Orioles starting rotation on opening day have been to or are currently in AAA. I would have loved to put Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen on the positives list because they have been, but the Orioles starting pitching once again has not lived up to much. Brian Matusz needs to be finished in Baltimore because it is clear he is not going to find whatever it is that he lost, and Jake Arrieta clearly could not handle the pressure of being the number one starter. The only reason pitching wise the O’s are still in it is because of their bullpen, which if the starting pitching stays like it has been, will be worn out by mid August
  • Hitting home runs is a positive, but the Orioles OBP is a huge negative. Solo home runs do not mean much and that is the majority of what the Orioles hit because no one gets on base. The Orioles are 26th in the league in OBP and even when guys do get on base, the lack of team speed makes the vast majority of the line up double plays waiting to happen.
  • The Orioles can not field, it is that simple. They lead the league in errors and you can not win at any level giving teams extra outs.
  • Mark Reynolds is to put it nicely…awful. Every once in a while a pitcher will hang a breaking ball and ol Markie will hit it 400 feet. That does not happen very often though as he only has a home run about every 27 at bats. If he does not hit a home run then as we all know, he hits nothing at all. We can see that in his giant .207 batting average and his ability to strike out once every 2.6 at bats (that is once a game for those who are not baseball familiar). Watching him attempt to hit major league pitching and his lack of adjustments make me want to cry. Not to mention he could not play a corner infield position in Williamsport, let alone at the big league level.

 

Trade Deadline

  • Zack Greinke– It has been reported that the Orioles are one of the teams in talks with the Brewers about Greinke. Please — for the love of god — pull this off. Unless they ask for Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado trade any prospect you want.
  • Find some speed. Darnard Spann is being shopped by the Twins and that wouldn’t be a bad pick up to stick in left field and hit around the bottom of the order. Same can be said for Juan Pierre if the rumors about the Phillies wanting to trade him are true.
  • Brian LaHair – This has not been talked about, but this is what I would do if I was GM. Call the Cubs and remind them that they have Anthony Rizzo chilling in AAA hitting .355 with 16 bombs. Then you propose a trade for Brian LaHair so they can get Rizzo up and get the future started. See what they say. MAKE THE CALL DAN!

 

Best Case Scenario

Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts come back and stay healthy, the pitching gets better once Zach Britton makes his return, and they deal for Greinke. This of course will help the Orioles hold on to a Wild Card spot (because they are not catching the Yankees) and make me the happiest person on earth.

Worst Case Scenario

They keep playing how they are playing now and they end up being the Orioles we all know and love…. finishing last in the AL East.

 

Prediction

My heart and mind tell me two different things, but I am going with the Orioles come back down to earth and finish 3rd or 4th in the AL East, but still over .500.

 

Regardless of what happens in the second half, this whole season has been a step in the right direction for the Orioles and hopefully a sign of whats to come.

 

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