While sitting in stunned silence over Freddy Garcia's inclusion in the Braves' rotation for the Division Series ...
The Orioles led the majors with 212 home runs this season. They ranked fifth in runs scored with 745 and eighth in hits with 1,460. They were tied for eighth in batting average at .260. They were fourth in OPS at .744.
Chris Davis did the heavy lifting, and first base is one of many positions that will go untouched over the winter. The Orioles are set, to say the least.
But what about left field?
The Orioles ranked 20th in average at the position at .251, 21st in OPS at .706, 18th in home runs with 16 and 29th in RBIs with 42. Only the Marlins (35) had fewer RBIs.
Left field is a riddle right now, one of the three spots in the lineup that needs to be addressed, along with second base and designated hitter.
Nate McLouth is a free agent after signing a one-year, $2 million deal last December, the two sides reaching agreement during the Winter Meetings in Nashville. The Orioles would gladly bring him back on another one-year contract. He can bat leadoff, steal bases and run down balls in the gap.
If another team offers two years - MLBTradeRumors.com estimated that he could reel in $10 million - the Orioles will pass.
McLouth batted .258/.329/.399 in 146 games, with 31 doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 36 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 37 attempts. Is that good enough for a corner outfielder? Do the home runs and RBIs seem insufficient when the right fielder, Nick Markakis, produced 10 and 59?
That's not much from the corner outfield positions. #analysis
McLouth batted .209 in 115 at-bats against left-handers. He's a career .221 hitter vs. southpaws, compared to .260 vs. right-handers. Should he still be the everyday left fielder, or should the Orioles attempt to re-sign him as part of a platoon or as the fourth outfielder?
McLouth was 8-for-9 in stolen bases in April, 9-for-9 in May and 7-for-10 in June, but he was only 1-for-2 in July, 4-for-5 in August and 1-for-2 in September. Why the reluctance to run in the second half?
I have an easier time answering this one. For starters, McLouth didn't find himself in as many favorable situations. The score might have dictated whether he gave himself the green light, or the pitcher's time to home plate and ability to hold runners, or the catcher's time to second base. Also, McLouth batted .194/.272/.333 in August and .218/.291/.397 in September.
You can't steal first base. #analysis
The Orioles don't have an everyday left field candidate waiting in the wings. They can't just hand the job to Henry Urrutia and assume that he'll be fine. Nolan Reimold is rehabbing after another neck surgery and could be non-tendered. If he's tendered or re-signed to a minor league deal, he would have to compete for a job.
Here's a list of free agent left fielders (ages in parentheses), courtesy of MLBTradeRumors.com:
Jeff Baker (33)
Jason Bay (35)
Mark DeRosa (39) - $750K club option with a $25K buyout
Raul Ibanez (42)
Reed Johnson (37) - $1.6MM club option with a $150K buyout
Austin Kearns (34)
Jason Kubel (32) - $7.5MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Nate McLouth (32)
Mike Morse (32)
David Murphy (32)
Laynce Nix (33)
Juan Pierre (36)
Grady Sizemore (31)
Delmon Young (28)
So give me your solution.