Taking a look back as the first half comes to an end

It is kind of hard to remember the Orioles began this year going 6-1. Or that a month ago they were 30-31 and an out away from getting to .500.

Another season is unraveling daily amidst injuries, poor starting pitching, a lack of clutch hitting and some young players that are failing to make progress.

With 11 losses in the last 12 games and a 6-20 record over the last month, it's not a pretty picture right now. With that as a backdrop, today I am taking a look back at what has happened since April 1. No fooling.

Most disappointing development: The failure of the young rotation to take a step forward. In fact, they collectively have gone backward.

After Buck Showalter took over last August, the starting rotation ERA was 3.16 the rest of the way as the club went 34-23. Now, that rotation is in shambles.

No one could have predicted Brian Matusz would have an ERA of 8.77 and be in Triple-A. Chris Tillman is there too, while Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken also spent time in the minors. Jake Arrieta has nine wins but also an elevating ERA and concerns about his right elbow.

Only Zach Britton (and sometimes Jeremy Guthrie) has mostly held his own, but he has just one win since May 1 and is also headed to the minors. The team probably should have stuck to the original plan to keep him in the minors at the start, but it looks like now they will save those 20 days of service time and at least know they will have Britton for seven full years.

Most disappointing development, take two: Seeing a young player like Ryan Adams get called up and then hardly ever play. Watching Nolan Reimold sit on the bench too much. Seeing Troy Patton put up numbers at Triple-A, but never get the call to Baltimore. How can a team headed for a 14th straight losing season not be taking a closer look at these young players?

MVO, first half: Adam Jones is my pick for Most Valuable Oriole for the first half. He hustles, has become a real team player and is putting up impressive stats. His play has taken a step forward this year, but he is very rare as someone on this team doing that.

MDO: Vlad Guerrero gets a slight nod over Derrek Lee as Most Disappointing Oriole thus far. He had a few big hits early on, but the power seems gone from his bat. He and Lee are hitting a combined .174 with runners in scoring position with 32 strikeouts in 132 at-bats. The power outage in the middle of the order by these veterans has badly hurt this team.

Is there reason for hope?: Maybe a small glimmer. Matusz, Arrieta and Britton are legit major league talents. If they can stay healthy, they still form the nucleus of what could be a decent rotation.

The bats of players like Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder have picked up at Triple-A. Players like Joe Mahoney, LJ Hoes, Xavier Avery and Tyler Townsend are producing on the farm. Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop will be among the youngest players tonight in the Futures Game.

All is not lost, although it feels like it now with the team at 6-20 over the last 26 games.

Matt Wieters, All-Star: Baseball Prospectus called Wieters one of the biggest prospect busts ever in March. Now he's an All-Star. Whoops.

What will the trade deadline hold?: If the Orioles can't sign J.J. Hardy - and let's hope they make a massive effort to do that - they should consider moving him if the return is good enough. Jeremy Guthrie might bring quality in return and he seems so snakebit here that a trade might be best for both parties.

The club really needs to be open to playing time for guys like Reimold and maybe see what a Bell or Snyder could do with the remaining games, but they likely have to move Lee or Guerrero to do that.

Will the Orioles finally let some more of the young players play in the second half?

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