It's funny what a difference a year can make. Last March, approaching opening day, there were many O's fans angered that Felix Pie was going to be the starting left fielder while home-grown product Nolan Reimold was headed to Triple-A.
Now some fans are wondering how Pie will get at bats and wondering why Reimold has been anointed the starter in left.
Maybe it's the same philosophy that sometimes makes the backup quarterback the most popular guy on the team. You know, the fans want him in the game anytime the regular struggles.
Last March 22nd, I wrote an article stating I completely understood the O's wanting to see what Pie could do while also giving Reimold more time in the minors. I wrote that perhaps out of this, two good Major Leaguers could emerge and that would benefit the team in the long run. I wondered why some fans were so upset with this decision.
Some of the comments back then read like this:
Joe T. said: It's because Pie is Corey Patterson 2.0. It's because Reimold is already better than Pie and always will be because Pie can't take a pitch. It has nothing to do with homegrown players getting a chance. It's about recognizing Pie's inevitable failure.
Doug said: To place a guy out there because he is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors without risk of being lost to another club is just sad. CPat had good minor league stats as well. The guy is an automatic out, and vastly overrated defensively as well as running the bases.
Jargon said: Felix Pie is another toolsy bust who may have a brief upswing like Patterson, but, I even doubt that. Patterson looked better than Pie does.
Nic said: First off your article sounds more like the MASN touting the corporate line and since both the O's and MASN are owned by PA then I guess if you like your job that makes sense.
Jargon also said: Feel free to eat crow when Pie flames out in a post on MASN.
Many fans also wrote in that day to say they understood as well, but if you remember what the local talk-shows sounded like then and the message boards, there seemed to be an avalanche of sentiment against giving Pie a shot.
Click here to read the full article and check out the comments from March of 2009 about Pie and Reimold.
Last spring, Pie hit .222-1-4 and had just four extra-base hits in 68 at bats. Reimold batted .321-4-8 with four extra-base hits in 28 at bats. Reimold's spring slugging percentage topped Pie's by .750 to .317.
Pie's early-season struggles only made some of the fan base more anxious about him. But, even after he lost his starting job and Reimold came up in May, Pie flourished in the second half. He and Terry Crowley kept working at it and it paid off.
There are no guarantees that both Pie and Reimold will continue to play well, but the potential is clearly there. It's looking like the O's may have gotten two good players there.
Now, less than a year after many called for his release, some fans not only think Pie is the better player for left, but that he is a star in the making. I'm not ready to go that far at all, but he should get a ton of credit for turning his season and career around last summer.
If having four good outfielders for three spots is a problem for the Orioles, it's a good problem to have. About this time last year, some fans would have bet big against that.