The Orioles have gone about constructing and molding their roster in quite a different way this season. For a team that’s chasing the Blue Jays and Yankees for the American League East crown, it has looked especially strange. There are a total of eight players from the opening day roster no longer with the team. That number jumps to nine if you include Ryan Webb, who was designated for assignment just before the team’s first game. That’s over 35 percent of the roster cast off before September. It’s also a lot of money invested that’s now been essentially wasted.
Perhaps the most notable members flushed from the roster are the most recent. Travis Snider was brought in via trade from Pittsburgh to help in the corner outfield spots and supplement the losses of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. He and Alejandro De Aza, another discarded element of the team, were going to be relied on coming into the season. It didn’t work out. Bud Norris is the other significant departure, the same guy who started the team’s home opener. Norris was a large part of the 2014 rotation, but never quite found his groove this season and paid for it.
What’s frustrating for Orioles fans goes back to the winter when the team didn’t really go out and solve the first issue. The corner outfield has been patchwork for some time now. The trade for Gerardo Parra has helped a bit thus far, but the 28-year-old is a free agent at year’s end and no one really knows if he has a future with the club. Dariel Alvarez could be an answer long term. He appears to be knocking on the door, but there are no guarantees with him. He likely won’t even get a chance to put on a Baltimore uniform until September.
In Webb, Norris, Snider, De Aza, Everth Cabrera, Wesley Wright, Ryan Lavarnway, Delmon Young and Tommy Hunter, most Orioles fans see massive failure. That failure isn’t just on the players themselves, but on the front office. It’s a long laundry list, and that’s dirty laundry. It’s not something to be proud of that all of those players didn’t work out. The small investments the organization made didn’t pay off like they did in recent years. Jimmy Paredes has been a nice story, but he hasn’t even shown the production that Steve Pearce did last season. There’s no question that a roster tends to have turnover throughout the season, and that’s especially the case with the Orioles in recent years. They utilize the 40-man roster better than most teams. But that’s a lot of players that simply didn’t work out. It’s tough to just shrug your shoulders and brush it off.
What’s even more frustrating for fans is the recent roster action and what it has added to the team. While the Blue Jays are adding Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, the O’s have added Junior Lake and Jason Garcia. There’s a bit of a difference there. Toronto now looks like the favorite to claim the division, even though it still trails the Yankees by 1 1/2 games. The Jays may be playing better than any team in the entire American League right now. There’s obviously no way the Orioles could’ve gone out and made similar moves to get the players the Blue Jays did, but it doesn’t lessen the irritation for fans.
Through all of this trial and error with the roster this season, the Orioles somehow still find themselves in the mix for a playoff spot. The O’s are five games out of the division and three games out of a wild card berth. So for everything that’s seemed to go wrong with certain elements of the roster and some player performances, not to mention injuries, the Birds are still very much right on the cusp of October with about eight weeks to play. That’s the glass half-full outlook, which I’ve accepted and I appreciate. I know that’s not enough for some, and settling or lowering your expectations is never a good thing. It’s important to wonder where the O’s could be if some of the players that have been sent packing had actually done something to stay.
Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.