Here are two questions worth pondering and discussing: Should the Orioles sign one player to handle most of the at-bats at the designated hitter spot this year? Should that player be Johnny Damon?
The Orioles appear to have at least some interest in the former Red Sox, Ray, Yankee, Tiger, Royal and Athletic.
We’ve been hearing rumblings that manager Buck Showalter would prefer to not have one player take up most of the DH at-bats like Vlad Guerrero did last year and Luke Scott the season before. He may prefer to rotate players in that spot and have DH at-bats available for players like Endy Chavez, Nolan Reimold, Chris Davis or maybe even Jai Miller. He could use Matt Wieters at times there when he is not catching.
Whichever way the Orioles decide to go, they need more production from the DH spot. With Guerrero getting 91 percent of Baltimore’s DH at-bats last year, the Orioles finished 10th in slugging, 11th in OPS, and 12th in on-base percentage and RBIs from the DH spot in 2011.
American League teams averaged 20 homers, 86 RBIs and an OPS of .769 from their designated hitters last year and the Orioles got 16 homers, 70 RBIs and a .734 OPS from the spot.
After his production dropped off badly with Texas in the second half of 2010, a lot of fans figured Guerrero would do that again with the Orioles, but he actually was better in the second-half with a .304 average and .775 OPS.
Last year with Tampa Bay, Damon had three more homers, eight more extra-base hits and 10 more RBIs than Guerrero with a slighty better OPS. The 38-year-old Damon, playing for his third team in three years, has seen his average and OPS decline each of the last three seasons.
We’ve seen Damon do a lot of damage over the years at Camden Yards. In 473 career at-bats at the park, he is batting .313 with 21 homers, 77 RBIs and an .885 OPS. Of course, he did that versus Orioles’ pitchers.
Damon has had a wonderful career and it seems wherever he goes his teammates really enjoy his clubhouse presence and what he brings to the team. Still, haven’t the Orioles been down this road before in adding a veteran (some would say aging) player whose best years are in the past? Derrek Lee and Vlad come to mind.
The Orioles could use the DH spot for their leadoff hitter, whoever that turns out to be. Robert Andino or Endy Chavez could get in the lineup this way. Chavez, though, has a career on-base average of just .299 in the leadoff spot.
What is your take?: Should the Orioles mostly use just one player in the DH slot as they have in recent years? Should they use the spot to rotate players? Is Damon a good fit in Baltimore?