BY L.E. MILLER, @LEMillerBMore
On May 10th the Orioles were 22-10 and on the best start of the Buck Showalter era. On May 20 they were still in first. On June 29 they were still at .500. Entering July 17, they were only 5.5 games out of a Wild Card seat.
Though technically in contention they look like a mighty warship that's had its masts blown off with canon fire. And the sailors are starting to call for mutiny. After five years of endless praise, all the sudden a significant amount of chatter calls for the head of one Dan Duquette.
I suppose Bastille Day was this weekend.
It is reminiscent of how so many people suddenly turned on Buck Showalter after the WC; after defending his every move for half a decade -- no matter what -- suddenly he was fallible. It's also similar in that the writing has been on the wall for some time and people have been unwilling to address it.
It was a given that the Birds were due to have their window close abruptly. The Orioles have traded an entire rotation away under Dan Duquette's regime for mostly piecemeal parts. Gave big contracts to players they shouldn't have. Thrown away international draft slots. People ate it up at the time because trades are exciting, but the long term result should have been obvious.
But it's a little strange, isn't it? If Dan Duquette was so good why are people so eager to run him out of town over a bad half season? The Orioles should be better than this, at least this season. They have run into every issue possible. Tillman was hurt. Manny is struggling. Britton got hurt. Jones has been mediocre. Gausman has been awful.
Realistically this team could be holding onto a 2nd wildcard spot right now. So why is this the time that everyone suddenly turns on Duquette?
If everyone really thought he was so good shouldn't we just be chocking this season up to bad luck?
I'm playing devil's advocate of course. Bad luck aside, the state of the Orioles isn't a fluke. Terrible contracts to Hardy, Davis, and O'Day. Worse trades. Throwing away international slots. Yeah, maybe the collapse is a year early. The 25-man-roster probably could be a wild-card team if everything went perfectly...but the team has no depth to fill seemingly ANY of the holes. And it's about to get a hell of a lot worse as various contracts expire.
You know what other teams could have been WC teams if everything went perfectly? 1998, 1999, 2005, 2008... In 162 games it is very rare that things will go how you planned. You can never count on it.
Let's take a look at those trades one more time.
Ariel Miranda: 28 starts, 4.06 ERA
Wade Miley: 29 starts, 5.43 ERA
A left handed starter with lots of cheap team control...traded for an expensive left handed starter run out of three cities in three years for a mix of attitude and performance issues. Why? Wade Miley literally had his meltdown in Baltimore in front of Buck Showalter...and they said “Yeah, that's our guy”
Zach Davies: 53 starts, 4.32 ERA
Gerardo Parra: .237/.268/.357, 55 games.
Six years of team control traded for two months of Gerardo Parra, a player that wouldn't have saved the 2015 Orioles even if he hit .400.
Say what you will about Davies, he has detractors, but there was no reason to make that trade. Even he was was just available to make spot starts from AAA he would be more valuable then Gerrado Parra was to the 2015 Orioles.
Eduardo Rodriguez: 51 starts, 4.10 ERA
Andrew Miller: 20 IP, 1.35 ERA (27.1 IP counting the playoffs)
Peter Angelos once refused to allow the team to trade Ty Wigginton in-division to the Yankees in a season the Orioles finished 30 games under .500.
Somehow, Duquette got the OK to trade a 21-year-old top prospect to the Red Sox for a reliever rental.
Miller only pitched 27.1 innings even if you count the playoffs. The cost? SIX years of one of the Orioles top prospects.
Yeah, Andrew Miller was fantastic in those 27.1 innings. But here the rub: The Orioles didn't need any bullpen help. They needed help at 2B, maybe help off the bench, but the bullpen was a rock.
Eduardo was big-league ready at only 21 years old and an Oriole for six years...and Dan shipped him off for the equivalent of three complete games.
Parker Bridwell: 5 starts, 3.24 ERA
PTBNL/Cash: Who knows.
This speaks to the issues in the Orioles' system. The Orioles were unable to develop Bridwell in seven years and cut him loose for PTBNL...and the Angels managed to get five serviceable MLB starts out of him in a matter of weeks from acquiring him.
Do I think Parker Bridwell is good? Not really. But wouldn't you have liked to get five solid starts here even if it was smoke and mirrors and he never did it again? You need guys in AAA that can do that.
Jake Arrieta: 116 starts, 2.78 ERA
Pedro Strop: 272 games, 2.72 ERA
Scott Feldman: 15 starts, 4.27 ERA
Steve Clevenger: 69 games, .259/.300/.380
The Orioles should never had needed to make this trade. There were several mid-rotation arms available in the off-season and the Orioles signed none of them.
“He needed a change of scenery.”
It turns out the change of scenery was just letting him throw the ball how he wanted to.
So, your rotation could be:
Kevin Gausman could go down to AAA and figure it out, and Chris Tillman could be on the DL safely getting back into some sort of shape to pitch instead of being thrown out there obviously not game ready.
Have E-Rod, Davies, and Miranda been aces? Of course not. But they've all been solid cogs in their respective rotations. Maybe you still make a trade somewhere and you lose one of those young guys, that's fine, but you get the idea.
These guys are mostly still under team control. This is Tillman's last year on his contract. Same for Ubaldo. They will be fools if they pay $12 million to bring Miley back.
Who exactly is supposed to pitch for the Orioles next year?
“But the Orioles can't develop pitching, they could all be bad here.” You might say.
Well isn't that on the GM?