If the Orioles are going to undergo any serious changes while enduring the second-worst start in franchise history, they aren’t expected to happen in the coming days or weeks. The sign for the proverbial fire sale won’t be posted outside the warehouse.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette noted the areas of concern yesterday, but also suggested that more time should be spent evaluating the club and determining whether it can bust out of its early doldrums.
Fans screaming for the front office to tear down the team and start the rebuild won’t get instant gratification.
“I haven’t heard a loud cry to that effect,” Duquette said.
Oh trust me, it’s there.
“Generally, you give a ballclub a couple of months and see what you have and then take a look at it and see where you want to go. But I think it’s a little early for that, frankly,” Duquette said before last night’s 6-0 win over the Tigers.
“We’ll probably give it a little bit more time. Usually, Memorial Day is the marker to evaluate a ballclub and see where you’re at and see where you want to go. Other clubs have had the same time to evaluate their ballclub and see what they need. So I think that’s probably a good marker.”
To prevent anyone from having to look it up or scramble to find a calendar, Memorial Day arrives on May 28 - exactly one month from today.
“Sometimes, coming out of spring training, it takes a little while for veteran players to get their feet on the ground,” Duquette said. “With the periodic scheduling in April, I just think you need to give it a little bit more time.”
Everyone in the organization gets evaluated when a team falls hard into last place and weaknesses are exposed across the board. Rumors are bound to circulate about jobs being on the line.
“We have a lot of areas where we need to do better,” Duquette said. “I think we need to take a look at all those areas and try to do better in all of them. It’s not one person or one area of our ballclub that needs to be addressed. We have a whole number of issues in areas that we need to do better in to be a competitive team.
“I think give it a little bit more time, we’ll have a better idea where this 2018 club is going to go.”
Last night’s win was only the second in the last 13 games and third in the last 16.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Duquette said. “The toughest part of our schedule was when we got started. We knew that we were going to have to be up for a challenge right out of the gate and we didn’t get off to a very good start, so we’ve got some work to do. See if we can get back on track.”
Has the club given itself enough time? No one is mathematically eliminated in April, but the Orioles dug an awfully deep hole.
“Well, it’s going to be a big challenge,” Duquette said. “There’s a sense of urgency. We’ve got to really stabilize our ballclub. An immediate goal would be to start playing where we can win a few ballgames.
“Some of the phases of our game are good some nights and then some other parts of our game falter. You’ve got to play a complete game to put it all together to win a game. This is the big leagues. So far, we haven’t done that other than we had a good series in New York, but we had to fight tooth and nail to win two extra-inning ballgames. So, obviously, we have a lot of work to do. We have to do some things better than what we have done so far.”
Relying on the healthy return of some key players and veterans living up to their track records requires patience and a lot of faith, which can burn a club. But there isn’t much else for the Orioles to do at the moment.
“We need to have good pitching, play good defense, get on base, drive in runs. All the things you need to do to win a ballgame,” Duquette said.
“I don’t think the cavalry is coming to rescue us. We may be able to add some players from Triple-A that could help us. That’s always a possibility. But we’ve got a number of established big leaguers that could certainly help us.”
There are a few prospects at Double-A Bowie, including pitcher Hunter Harvey and outfielders Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins. But Duquette will continue to monitor Norfolk’s roster first for possible reinforcements.
“We’ll have to wait and see, but some of the guys in Double-A probably need a little bit more seasoning,” he said. “But there are some guys in Triple-A who could come up and help the ballclub.”
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop could come off the disabled list by May 8, but Tim Beckham likely will miss at least six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair tears on both sides of his groin. Danny Valencia continues to play third base in Beckham’s absence while Jace Peterson, claimed off waivers this week, starts at second. Luis Sardiñas is on the bench as a utility option.
“We could use more depth in the infield,” Duquette said. “That was an issue and we were trying to address it coming out of spring training. We weren’t able to address it. We tried to address it several times in the off-season and in spring training, but we didn’t find the right match, so we’re continuing to look for some depth there.”
Note: Caleb Joseph and Chance Sisco each committed a throwing error during Thursday night’s loss to the Rays. According to STATS, the last time two Orioles catchers were charged with errors in the same game was June 17, 1999 with Charles Johnson and Mike Figga.
The Cubs’ David Ross and Miguel Montero most recently did it on April 5, 2015.