A season that’s never allowed the Orioles to straighten out their problems offers another weird twist this week. They get two off-days before heading home for the winter.
The Orioles are idle today, play two games in Pittsburgh and are idle again before a weekend series at Tropicana Field.
Tim Beckham will receive treatment today on his injured hamstring and the Orioles will determine whether he’s day-to-day or needs to be shut down.
As the offseason moves along, they will decide whether Beckham is their regular shortstop in 2018, a utility candidate or a trade chip.
Beckham arrived in a trade with the Rays at the non-waiver deadline and batted .394/.417/.646 in August, with 10 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 19 RBIs over 29 games.
The 50 hits were the second most by an Oriole in a calendar month. He was the second player in the modern era - since 1900 - to collect at least 40 hits in his first 22 games with a new team.
Maintaining that pace really would have been historic, and unrealistic, but Beckham has cooled off considerably with 16 hits in 85 at-bats this month.
The bigger issue is defense. Beckham’s committed nine errors with the Orioles - matching his shortstop total with the Rays - and has been saved a handful of times by Chris Davis’ scoops at first base. Manager Buck Showalter preaches the importance of “trustworthy” players and Beckham remains outside the circle.
The Orioles won’t pick up the $14 million option on J.J. Hardy’s contract and he may be ready to slip into more of a part-time mode. Something along the lines of a timeshare at shortstop. Start most games in the week, but not all of them, to keep his body fresher.
Chris Tillman also may have been making his final appearance at Camden Yards with the Orioles. There have been internal discussions weighing the pros and cons of attempting to sign him to a one-year contract. The debate includes theories on whether Tillman would accept it.
It makes no sense on the surface for a pitcher attempting to reestablish his value on the market to reside in the American League East and call Camden Yards home. But I’ve also heard about the lure of being in an organization that already knows him and likely would exhibit more patience if he gets off to a slow start in spring training.
The Orioles will be searching for multiple starters over the winter, which shouldn’t be couched as breaking news even on the slowest of days. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the only two assured of being back in 2018. Do the math. Of course they need more starters.
I floated “two” past someone in the organization who replied, with eyes wide, by holding up four fingers. Sort of a joke, but not entirely.
The shopping list will include a few arms signed to minor league deals with spring training invitations. Keep in mind that four pitchers who made starts for Triple-A Norfolk this summer came off the 40-man roster - Tyler Wilson, Logan Verrett, Jayson Aquino and Edwin Jackson. Jackson is out of the organization. And Alec Asher is on the 40-man bubble.
Chance Sisco made his first major league start yesterday and hit a two-run homer, but Showalter was more interested in his work behind the plate.
“I’m getting ready to talk to the pitchers a little bit that I trust,” Showalter said. “Darren (O’Day) will have a good take on it. Of course, there isn’t a better catching instructor in baseball than John Russell. And what I noticed is that I didn’t notice him. You know what I’m saying?
“I’m getting ready to call (plate umpire) Gary Cederstrom. I know Gary, and see what he thought from an umpire’s perspective. And if he says he was terrible, I still like him. But I don’t think he will.
“I thought he presented himself well. Chris was quick to the plate, they don’t run much on him. The pop up was tough. I thought he was pretty calm with that. Waited a long time to throw his mask away and didn’t let it drift on him like a lot of guys get too far under it.”