José Iglesias might not have noticed the reaction on social media to the Orioles’ opening day lineup.
Impossible for me to miss it.
Twitter had a field day with manager Brandon Hyde’s decision to bat Iglesias third. Fans and media partied on it.
The lineup should have been written on a cornhole board.
What does it say about this team that Iglesias is the No. 3 hitter? A guy with a career .687 OPS who’s valued for his glove?
I’ll ask again: Who’s laughing now?
Iglesias probably won’t win a batting title or maintain this pace. It would be historic. But he was 7-for-13 with three doubles in Boston and matched last season’s total of four-hit games.
“I think with our lineup, we’re not going to have a traditional ... I’ve got Rio (Ruiz) hitting fourth and (Hanser) Alberto hitting fifth. We don’t have a traditional lineup,” manager Brandon Hyde said earlier in the day.
“I’m trying to slot guys. The bottom line is I want to get Iglesias, (Anthony) Santander and (Austin) Hays as many at-bats as possible, so I’m going to put the guys up at the top in a right-left-right situation, hopefully. I feel like they give us our best at-bats, so against left-handers for me, Hays, Iglesias, Alberto and Santander give us our four best at-bats. So I want them up at the plate as much as I can to try to force action.
“I’m not expecting Iggy to be a 25-to-35 home run, .900 OPS hitter. I’m just expecting him to take a good at-bat and to move the baseball, put the ball in play. And hit him behind Santander because I just want contact really in that spot and he’s been swinging the bat well.”
Hyde has been scrambling to fill a hole in the lineup. Iglesias just came as a surprise solution.
“The loss of (Trey) Mancini, honestly, also kind of moves guys around,” Hyde said, “and maybe we’re not in typical spots that we would like to have them in or normally, but just kind of the way our lineup is right now, that’s how we’re putting it together.”
The Orioles will play the Marlins tonight in Miami as long as the opposition is able to make it back from Philadelphia and avoid a team-wide quarantine. Iglesias is probably going to stay in the third spot.
Laugh if you want. It’s working so far.
* Alex Cobb’s impressive start in Boston over the weekend already has led to questions regarding his status as a trade chip. What he was supposed to be in 2019 prior to an injury that led to hip and knee surgeries.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias didn’t bite yesterday when asked about Cobb, focusing only on how the veteran right-hander can assist the club while still a part of it.
“I’m happy that he looks so good,” Elias said in his Zoom call. “He pitched really well. It was really the best I’ve seen him throw the last year or so since that start against the Yankees in the home opener last year, and everything that he went through to get back to that spot. A lot of work by him and our coaching staff. So he’s going to be a big asset for us.
“I’ve said all along that a general manager’s job is to look at player moves and so we’ll see what comes our way with any of our players as the season goes, but I think that he’s going to be an enormous help for us this year in helping out our young pitchers ... and if he keeps doing what he’s doing it’s going to be a big year for him.”
The trade deadline is pushed back a month and teams could be more reluctant to deal players from the 60-man pool - the only personnel eligible - just to rent a piece for the stretch run. And the Orioles’ quest to infuse talent at the lowest levels of their farm system can’t be satisfied under these rules.
The expanded playoffs also could turn more teams into buyers or make them more hesitant to sacrifice players while having to travel a longer road to reach the World Series.
A shorter season is “a crapshoot,” Elias said.
Who’s going to roll the dice?
“I really don’t know what this trade market is going to look like this year. There are so many factors, it’s hard to cover them all that makes it just a total unknown,” Elias said.
“You’ve also got the financial impact of the coronavirus outage that we’ve just had and teams may have very limited to no budget flexibility for this year. There’s just a lot of factors. I just really don’t know how to predict how teams are going to behave and we’re just going to have to see.”