Andrew Stetka: Time has come to take stock of the Orioles

The day has finally come. Memorial Day is here and the self-imposed benchmark for self-evaluation is upon us. The Orioles are 17-36, the second-worst record in baseball behind the White Sox. They have the third-worst run differential in the game at minus-79. They’ve won a mere seven games away from Camden Yards, the worst road record this season. They are now a full eight games out - of fourth place - in the AL East. The O’s are 19 games back of the Red Sox for the division lead and 15 1/2 games out of a wild card spot. This evaluation shouldn’t take long.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette set the Memorial Day barometer earlier this month when asked about the potential start of a rebuilding period for the Orioles. Pushing off the question a few weeks may have seemed frustrating to some, but it was a reasonable thing to do. There was no reason for this team to throw up its collective hands after 30 games. Memorial Day is always the first real marker for any baseball team to evaluate and figure out where it is for a season. The Orioles are in a place to make a number of moves that will transform the future of the club.

There are two main questions that stem from any coming selloff or rebuild or whatever you want to call it. The first lies in who is making the calls and what their future is with the team. I would presume that Duquette is making decisions, being that he’s been in charge of such things for many years. But there are increased reports of Brady Anderson having an increased role in the front office, and Duquette is sitting on an expiring contract. Manager Buck Showalter is also on an expiring contract, so there are questions about the influence he has in future decisions. All of these things can easily be put to bed with some kind of game plan from the club. Whether it is contract extensions or announcements that changes are going to be made, something has to be done about an approach to the future and a philosophy for turning things around. A plan needs to be put in place.

The second large and looming question that needs to be answered is just how far will the Orioles go in reshaping the roster for the rest of this season. Virtually everyone believes it will include a trade of Manny Machado at some point prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline. It could even include the team’s de facto closer, Brad Brach, who like Machado is in a contract year. Adam Jones is also in a contract year, and could be dealt if he agrees to it. If Zach Britton is able to get back from his Achilles injury and create some value, he could be traded, too, as he’s also in a contract year. Beyond that, there are a number of directions the O’s could go. They could attempt to trade Richard Bleier, who has had a very strong season and could be valued as a left-handed specialist to a playoff team. They could even go as far to trade players with more team control like Jonathan Schoop or Kevin Gausman.

There’s something exciting about what’s happening with the Orioles. That may seem crazy because we’re talking about one of the worst teams in the game. But there’s a great anticipation as to what will happen next. If anything, it creates great opportunity for discussion and debate as to what’s the best approach to create a winner. These Birds have a lot of resources at their disposal. They have assets that can be used to turn things around. How they go about it will go a long way into proving how successful the venture becomes.

Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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