I was never in a debate class, but I believe a basic principal requires participants to provide logical arguments to either side.
With that in-mind, below I discuss some O's issues giving points of views from differing perspectives. I invite your feed back to provide a 'verdict' for each discussion point.
Discussion Point 1: Mark Reynolds and his lack of production
Point: After batting under .200 for Arizona last year, and having his third consecutive season of over 200 k's – it is easy to see why the Diamondbacks gave up on Reynolds for two relief pitchers. The O's should seriously consider removing him from the everyday lineup. He is basically Atkins Part 2.
Counter Point: The same Mark Reynolds that had a horrible September last year (with an injury) and has looked horrible so far this year, is still the same Mark Reynolds who has a career OPS of .805, and turns just 28 in August. On one side you have his 120 or so ab's this year, and on the other side you have his 2,100 Major League ab's. Which one makes more sense when evaluating the player?
Besides, who are you replacing Reynolds in the lineup for? Bench / Super UTI types like Andino or Fox? Bell, who is still showing zero plate discipline at AAA? You give Reynolds every chance to get comfortable and produce. The real time to evaluate him, is after he gets hot, and remember he will not be as good as that extreme, nor as bad as he looks now.
His approach is very poor right now. The best thing he has done offensively was recently have a stretch of 6 games (May 3rd - 8th) where he drew 8 walks. My primary issue with what we have seen is the lack of power shown. There should be more ab's where he is driving the ball with authority. That said he is not Atkins Part 2. Atkins saw his numbers regress for 3 consecutive years before coming to Baltimore last year. Reynolds had a miserable September 2010 (with an injury) and that has continued into '11. As he is signed for '12, with an option for '13 – you need to give him every opportunity to turn things around.
Discussion Point 2: Has enough of the season gone by to question Jim Presley?
Point: With nearly 25% of this season complete, the Baltimore Orioles are 24th overall in runs, 25th overall in on-base %, and 22nd overall in slugging %. The expectation was an offense that would be league average at a minimum, with the upside for more. The number of O's performing below expected levels points to something, is it Presley?
Counter-Point: I checked the stats, and it appears that Jim Presley has yet to have an ab here in 2011. The expectation of a league average (or better) offense was based on the collective track-records of the O's everyday lineup. Those players are responsible for raising their level of play. Terry Crowley was allowed to serve as the Hitting Coach from 1999 through 2010. (Meaning he served under 7 different O's Managers.) It is fair to say that Crowley never had an abundance of talent to work with, but as the names changed – the approach did not. The O's were never particularly adept at taking pitches, and working counts. To Crowley's credit, there were numerous players that pointed to the additional technical work he helped provide them. It remains to be seen what Presley will bring to the table negatively or positively. I would suspect that Presley will not get 11 years to show improvement, but he probably should get more then 25% of his first season to question his results.
Discussion Point 3: Brian Roberts is done.
Point: After playing in just 59 games in 2010, Roberts entered Saturday with an OPS of just .614. He has just 3 steals, and only 7 doubles. 2nd baseman traditionally age poorly, and it appears he has nothing left.
Counter-Point: Roberts does turn 34 in October, and because of that – every slump becomes magnified, and you do wonder if you are seeing significant regression. That said, the big issue this Spring was would Roberts be able to stay in the lineup. After playing Saturday, he has played in 36 of the O's first 38 games. Roberts is in a horrible slump, as he entered Saturday with a .291 OPS in May. I think it pretty apparent that he is a better hitter then that. Calling him 'done' makes little sense in my eyes, but I do think it is fair to ask how much does he have left? He had a .733 OPS in April. He had a .763 OPS in his 213 ab's after the All-Star break last year. (He also had 10 steals in those 55 games.) The O's also have him for 2012, and '13 at $10M per year. My belief is that he can again approximate the production he showed during the 2007-09 seasons. I think for that to happen though, the O's need to give him more regular rest.
Discussion Point 4: The O's are lucky to have entered Saturday at 17-20, their last-place record is deserved.
Point: The O's offense has been poor. The bullpen has been mediocre to poor. The potential for this team is very limited.
Counter-Point: Baltimore entered this year with most people believing they would be improved and right around .500. Well, the O's are improved, and right around .500 – so why the negativity? The O's offense should improve. The roster improved as a whole when Hardy returned, and the O's went back to a 4 man bench, and 7 man bullpen. The rotation will improve (with added benefit to the bullpen) when Matusz returns. While the O's entered Saturday in last-place in the AL East, they were also only a ½ game outside of 3rd. I'm optimistic about the O's, because aside from the 6-1 start, they have yet to play particularly well. Despite a number of things going wrong, they have been competitive overall.
Discussion Point 5: Even if the play improves, the O's need to be trading anyone with an expiring contract or is not part of their younger core.
Point: Even if the O's start playing consistently better, this is probably an 85 win team at best. If you are not contending, keeping the roster together in it's entirety makes little sense. You need to augment the system by moving players like Guthrie, Scott, Uehara, Gonzalez, Hardy, Lee, Guererro for anything you can get.
Counter-Point: You absolutely need to listen to any and all offers received. If you are going to contend going forward, it is going to be based around the younger core (Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Matusz, Britton, Arrieta etc.) and adding depth around them makes sense. It is probably very unlikely for Gonzalez and Guererro to be back in '12. I think Gonzalez could be attractive to multiple teams. If he has value at the non-waiver deadline, the O's will probably have to move him. Guererro could be attractive to some other AL contender, but the market for him figures to be limited. Uehara and Lee could both be back in '12, but the chances are less than 50/50. Both players could be moved. I do not think you 'have to' move either one. The O's would be well served to be negotiating an extension with Hardy now. Ideally the O's would want him back for next year, so I do not anticipate Baltimore making him available. The real decisions for the O's will be what they do with Guthrie and Scott. If Baltimore believes they can contend in '12, I do not think either player will (or should) be moved unless the O's were surprisingly overwhelmed by the offer back.
Baltimore went into this 2011 season with the focus being on winning games. If the O's are at or above .500 in late July, it would be a mistake to make wholesale changes to the roster.
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Lifelong. Down by the river.
Lifelong. Down by the river.