I’ve never been a stickler for New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I break them like crystal speed bumps. Work out more, work out less, eat healthier, worry less, stop complaining, start appreciating, read more books, book more trips that don’t include a seventh-inning stretch.
I don’t want to be held accountable, but I’m willing to be held if I become emotional.
Anyway, let’s play around with a few resolutions related to the Orioles.
Should Adam Jones include one about becoming more patient at the plate?
Let’s go back to that speed bump. It wouldn’t last.
Jones comes to the plate in full attack mode and he’s carved out a nice career with his approach, including five All-Star Game appearances, a Silver Slugger Award and three seasons receiving Most Valuable Player votes.
Jones is in the fraternity that believes you may see only one good pitch in an at-bat, and if it’s the first offering, don’t let it pass. He hit .302/.321/.632 with 11 home runs last season when putting the first pitch in play, .426/.418/.759 with five home runs on a 1-0 count and .373/.377/.463 with an 0-1 count.
We tend to remember the first-pitch outs when the opposing hurler is laboring, and yes, helping out a guy who can’t find the plate raises the blood pressure.
No sense in Jones changing his stripes - and let’s hope he’s not wearing them after 2018. He came up big when the Orioles needed a leadoff hitter, posting a .282/.320/.471 slash line with 24 home runs in 108 games. He’s expected to move down the order this year, providing some thump in the middle.
He also figures to improve on a .218/.268/.313 slash line against left-handers. He owns a career .264 average against them.
Should Chris Davis make a resolution to bunt more against the shift?
He addressed the topic last month, weighing the pros and cons.
(I’m aware that pros get weighed on their respective teams, but do cons get weighed in prison? Asking for a friend.)
“I have laid down bunts in the past, some really good ones and some really bad ones, and they don’t care,” Davis said. “I’ve talked to a number of guys on several teams asking, ‘What is your goal whenever you shift me?’ And they say, ‘We’d rather have you go 4-for-4 with four bunt singles than go 1-for-4 and hit a three-run homer.’ They’re like, ‘You lay one down, you’re playing into our hands. We want you to do that.’ That’s why these shifts are so dramatic.
“Believe me, it’s frustrating to go home after you’ve hit three balls or four balls on the screws and the third baseman is catching it 10 feet in front of the right fielder.”
I believe that Davis should more often take what the other team is giving him, especially to lead off an inning or if he’s slumping and comes to the plate with the Orioles down by a run or two. But he’s not going to transition into a life of small ball.
Should Zach Britton make a resolution to not be perfect?
Crazy talk. Just don’t fall into a deep depression if he blows a save. He’s an extremely tough act to follow.
Should Jonathan Schoop make a resolution to play 162 games again in 2017?
I’d tweak it and vow again to do everything in his power to stay healthy and remain available to manager Buck Showalter. And understand when his streak ends.
Showalter wants to use his bench more, however it’s constructed, and Schoop probably would benefit from taking a breather.
Schoop batted .304/.338/.509 in the first half and .225/.252/.391 after the break. He hit .196/.222/.348 in the last 29 games.
Did he wear down? We can only speculate, but there seems to be evidence of it.
On an unrelated note - maybe it’s more of a statistical oddity - Schoop hit four home runs in April, May, July, August and September/October. He hit five in June.
Should Welington Castillo make a resolution to reduce his number of passed balls?
He clearly doesn’t want to go in the other direction after tying for the National League lead with 10. He also committed seven errors and was behind the plate for 42 wild pitches.
Castillo isn’t a disaster defensively, but he could benefit from working with bench coach John Russell, who also tutors the catchers, and roving catching instructor Donnie Werner.
Castillo’s mitt work will come under closer scrutiny in the ninth inning. It isn’t easy catching Britton’s upper-90s sinking fastball and you don’t want to pick it up at the backstop.
Should Ryan Flaherty make a resolution to replace Castillo for an inning?
Flaherty has played every position except center field and catcher. He even pitched an inning last season.
Backing up Jones for an inning wouldn’t be as impressive as moving behind the plate. And Flaherty is believed to be one of the emergency catchers. The name never is revealed, but we usually can figure it out.
Let’s cross that one off the position list for Flaherty and really put the “super” in super utility player.
Should Ubaldo Jimenez make a resolution to become a faster starter?
I’m not talking about his pace on the mound. I’m referring to his 7.77 ERA in the first inning last season.
Jimenez allowed 24 runs (21 earned) and 38 hits in the opening frame and served up four home runs. He also walked 18 batters and surrendered 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts.
As Castillo will find out, Jimenez isn’t particularly good at holding runners.
Captain Obvious says Jimenez will make life easier for everyone if he doesn’t fall behind so early in games.
Should Chris Tillman borrow Jimenez’s resolution?
Tillman wasn’t as bad as Jimenez in the first frame, but his 15 runs (14 earned) and 33 hits were his highest totals in any inning.
Tillman might choose to focus on his uneven home/road splits, though I’m not sure how he’d address them. He was 12-2 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.226 WHIP in 19 starts at Camden Yards and 4-4 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.398 WHIP in 11 outings away from it.
The good news is no one asked him about it - every single time he stood at his locker after a start.