Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Nate McLouth has been named the International League’s Player of the Week. Left-hander Brian Matusz has been named Pitcher of the Week.
And you thought the Orioles didn’t have enough depth in their farm system. Shame on you.
McLouth must have edged out Tides outfielder LJ Hoes, who extended his hitting streak to 19 games yesterday. The kid’s been raking.
Hoes, the youngest player in the league at 22, moved into a tie for fourth place on Norfolk’s list of all-time longest hitting streaks, joining Russ Johnson (2003), Timo Perez (2001) and Jose Lopez (1997). Omir Santos (21 games in 2008), LeRoy Stanton (23 games in 1971) and Gregg Jefferies (24 games in 1988) are ahead of him.
You may have noticed that the Tides used to be a Mets affiliate.
Plenty of teams are inquiring about Hoes in trade talks with Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. He was chosen in the third round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, one round after outfielder Xavier Avery, who’s also being targeted by other teams.
Matusz was the fourth overall pick in that draft, and it’s possible that the Orioles offer him in a trade while holding onto Dylan Bundy, who threw a scoreless inning yesterday despite allowing three hits to pick up the win in the Futures Game.
Shortstop Manny Machado had a two-run double. He’s not available, either, which brings us to the great trade debate.
I understand the logic behind the Orioles being aggressive as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. The Yankees are threatening to run away with the American League East, but they can’t take both wild cards with them. If the season ended today, instead of just the first half, the Orioles would face the Angels in a one-game playoff.
Let that soak in a little. This team, picked to finish dead last by just about everyone in the universe, would make the playoffs if the season ended today. This team, widely viewed as being set up to lose 100 games, is five above .500 and in full buyers mode.
It’s easier for Duquette to be aggressive when the Orioles are in contention. How many times were they above .500 at the break under Andy MacPhail, who should receive a check in the mail each time another executive lets the market play out? How many times were they even close to it?
It’s also clear that Duquette wants to make a major splash in his first year back in the majors after a long hiatus. Picture him doing a cannonball into the pool. Picture your grill and picnic table floating down your street and ramming into a neighbor’s car parked along the curb.
That kind of splash.
So yes, the Orioles should go for it. There’s no five-year plan here. As Matusz pointed out recently, they’re in a win-now mode. Contribute or be gone.
But how far should they “go?”
Dave Johnson, my colleague at MASN and part of WBAL Radio’s postgame show, argues that any minor leaguer should be available in a trade if it brings a proven major leaguer such as Brewers ace Zack Greinke - as long as it’s not a rental. He doesn’t view Bundy or Machado as untouchable in the right deal, and I’m sure others share his opinion.
I view them as untouchable, and I’m sure others share my opinion. Duquette apparently does, though he won’t come right out and say it.
I want Duquette to be aggressive, but not at the expense of the two top prospects in an organization that’s been severely challenged to draft and develop impact players of this magnitude. Baseball America ranks Bundy No. 1 and Machado No. 9. I’m being greedy, and perhaps a little selfish. I’m not sharing them with anybody.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s foolish to take potential over proven. But I just can’t part with them if I’m in charge.
I’m also hesitant to include Avery and Hoes as my mind again drifts back to the days when the Orioles had zero legitimate position prospects in their system, but the idea of building depth is so you can move part of your surplus in a major trade.
That’s how the Reds landed pitcher Matt Latos from the Padres. That’s how the Braves, with all of their pitching prospects, could end up with Greinke. That’s how so many other teams have been doing it for years while the Orioles rummaged through the bargain bins and brought home mismatched shoes.
If the Orioles are going for it, I guess they should be all in - with the exception of Bundy and Machado. The cavalry, once deemed untouchable, is now on the table.
The Orioles are on the clock. The deadline is July 31. Let’s make a deal.
NOTE: Catcher Taylor Teagarden isn’t starting today for Double-A Bowie, and he’s listed as day-to-day with a bruised hand. Teagarden left last night’s game after one at-bat.
Nick Markakis is serving as Bowie’s designated hitter. Chris Tillman is getting the start before rejoining the Orioles.